CKGSB Professor Illuminate Unicorn Innovation and Entrepreneurship Capabilities of Nations

May 15, 2024 | Faculty

Professor of Managerial Practice, Weilei (Stone) Shi, at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) alongside scholars from the University of St. Gallen University and Hurun report, has identified key indicators to gauge a country’s capability in nurturing entrepreneurship and elite systems.

Their research on elite systems across countries underscores the significance of unicorn companies—startups valued at USD 1 billion or above in the dynamism of an elite system, as a potent force for structural reform and socioeconomic advancement. Professor Shi and his co-authors delved into metrics such as the number of unicorns by country and the number of unicorns divided by GDP.

Professor Shi highlighted the undeniable leadership of the United States and China in producing unicorn companies, a testament to their structural policy support, market vibrancy and creativity. India, the UK and Germany followed closely as the third to the fifth-ranked nations, reflecting their up-and-coming entrepreneurial ecosystems.

However, there is a paradigm shift when studying the number of unicorns divided by GDP to understand the relative pervasiveness of unicorns in an economy. Due to its highly efficient capital markets and culture that supports entrepreneurship and new value creation, Israel, Estonia and Lithuania ranked third, surpassing economic giants like the US. Notably, India ranked fifth, despite its GDP being a fraction of the US’s, showing the country’s untapped potential, albeit hindered by limited exit opportunities for venture capital investors.

With the research, Professor Shi and his international collaborators aim to enhance the Elite Quality Index (EQx), a benchmark for business executives and policymakers when devising global business strategies and policies. In the meantime, CKGSB is committed to educating the next generation of unicorn leaders through tailored programs and helping them innovate and create value within dynamic ecosystems. For more information on CKGSB’s unicorn-specific programs, please visit:

For Professor Shi’s original article on “Unicorns: The Engine of Creative Destruction and Elite Circulation”, click here.

Understand China from the inside

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter today!

Understand China from the Inside

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter today!