Long term, Silicon Valley could face serious challenges from a number of cities around the world – if they manage to surmount the specific obstacles that are holding some of them back.
Which technology or entrepreneurial hotspots will be in a position to rival Silicon Valley in the next few years? Several studies have pointed to newnerve centres of development of the new information and communication technologies inside the United States – Tennessee and Ohio being just two of the notable examples. But what about Silicon Valley’s rivals on the international scene? Natacha Guterres, Marketing Coordinator at Australia-based The Messenger Group, believes there are eight cities that could in the not-too-distant future be competing with the Californian technology hotbed. Among them, Singapore and Tel Aviv have already made their mark as new technology and entrepreneurial centres. Singapore has the geographical advantage of being at the crossroads of Asia, while Tel Aviv has a high density of software startups, plus a resource cluster dubbed ‘Silicon Wadi’, a technology hotspot that has for many years now played host to subsidiaries of computer giants: IBM since 1949, Microsoft since 1989 and Cisco Systems since 1997.
New tech hubs around the world
Bangalore, in India, with its well-educated workforce, is certainly one of the candidates to challenge Silicon Valley’s reign. However, India as a whole, ranking just 140thin the world in nominal GDP per capita, needs another push to drive its economy forward if the innovation landscape is to prosper in the longer term. Sydney could also be a likely rival, given its highly-regarded research centres, although its geographical isolation remains something of a weak point. While Sydney is Australia’s largest startup ecosystem, it has yet to reach a position where it can influence markets outside the country. Moscow is also on the list of hotspots, with some notable serial entrepreneurs – the success of Groupon clone Darberry being an example of the initiatives around – although the city would need to break out of its isolation, perhaps more in terms of mental attitude than geographical location, from the international economy in order to make its mark globally.
Sponsoring and backing entrepreneurship
In Canada, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council revealed in its State of the Nation 2012 report published in May to what extent both the provincial authorities and the federal government are supporting research and development in order to help drive forward innovation. A strong sign of this activity can be seen in the recent launch of a ‘Startup Visa’ programme intended to encourage entrepreneurs and researchers from all over the globe to settle in Canada. This is one reason why Toronto is listed among the eight cities striving to rival Silicon Valley. Chile and Australia have also sponsored similar visa schemes with a view to attracting entrepreneurs. Santiago, which in addition offers a financial support package to promising business startups, has already attracted 500 early-stage entrepreneurs. Last but not least, Berlin, billed by The Messenger Group as “Europe’s answer to startups”, completes the list of eight cities that are investing in and promoting the spread of innovation.