The global tech hubbub: Why it’s no longer Silicon Valley or bust

The Apple Campus 2
The Apple Campus 2 in Cupertino, in California’s Silicon Valley.
REUTERS/Noah Berger

Whether we’re talking about political, economic or social change, no development has had as big an impact on global society as tech. It is a sector that impacts every aspect of our lives.

Political campaigns are fought and won on social media. Huge advances in artificial intelligence mean we now work alongside robots. Transportation has never been as easy and seamless thanks to innovative solutions in the palm of our hand.

So much of this early progress emerged from Silicon Valley, the small stretch of land in Northern California that runs from San Jose to Palo Alto.

While its heart remains in San Francisco, today’s tech industry now reaches across the globe. Tech hubs have emerged in all corners of the world, and rather than competing with the Valley, these new hubs are creating innovation on a global scale.

Of the world’s top five ‘unicorns’, three are companies less familiar to many in the West: Didi Chuxing, Xiaomi, Meituan Diaping. All of them come from China.

The Far East was historically a hub for manufacturing and electronics, but we are now seeing scaling companies and mass innovation at a rate never seen before. The adoption rate for fintech in China is estimated to be as high as 69 per cent, more than double that of the US. In Alibaba and Tencent, China has two of the most rapidly expanding technology companies in the world, fueling growth across different sectors. Whilst doubters question whether China will sustain its success, it is already a tech powerhouse in the world.

But China is an obvious tech centre, and the likes of Singapore, Israel and Stockholm are often cited. If you fast forward to 2028, which lesser-known ecosystems will emerge as strong technology hubs?

Elsewhere in Asia, Thailand is fast attracting investors, with fintech and e-commerce acting as the country’s strongest assets. Earlier this year Alibaba invested $320 million in a Thai digital hub – a vote of confidence in the county’s long-term tech credentials.

Looking to Africa, significant investment has been made in Kenya, with Nairobi producing a crop of incubators, accelerators and funders since 2008. Tech startups in the Kenyan capital broght in $32.8 million in start-up funds in 2017 – the third most in the entire continent.

And in South America, Bogotá is gathering pace as a nation rich with innovation and home to a number of private equity, venture capital and seed funds. AR and software development are central to the tech scene in Colombia’s capital and it is becoming a gateway for investment opportunities from abroad.​

Back in Europe, over the past decade, the UK has emerged as a world tech leader, something celebrated this week with London Tech Week – with 55,000 attendees from 90 different countries gathering in the capital.

Strong ties between academia and business have helped underpin the growth of the UK digital sector. The country is home to four of the top ten higher education institutions in the world, and our university spin-outs that channel top-class research into industry success reached over 2,000 in 2017.

The UK’s greatest strength lies in the capacity to link traditional industries with innovation, providing the fresh thinking and new approaches that challenge the status quo. Whether it be fintech in London, gaming and wider creative industries in the North West, or high-tech manufacturing in Edinburgh, the merging of tech and industry has propelled Britain as a global innovation hub.

Location plays a part, too. Our time zone means we can speak with Europe, Asia and North America in office hours, allowing for global collaboration. Our business connections with other nations go back centuries, which means business culture is familiar irrespective of where you come from. Language also matters, particularly English. Indeed, there are more English speakers in China than the US, testament to the soft power that language continues to have.

These unique characteristics have together enabled Britain to now emerge as the second most connected startup ecosystem in the world, behind only Silicon Valley.

Ultimately, the figures speak for themselves. Recent PitchBook data showed British tech companies have received over £5bn in VC funding since the EU referendum in 2016 – more than France, Germany and Sweden combined.

What is clear now is technological innovation is no longer the preserve of the Valley. As technology spreads far and wide, so do business opportunities and fresh ideas and that is good for Silicon Valley and good for the world.

Not too long ago the unwritten industry rule was: Silicon Valley or bust. We now find ourselves in a much more exciting time when startups are emerging across the globe – and it’s that wealth of global opportunity where the true power of tech lies.

Priya Guha, UK Ecosystem General Manager, RocketSpace

This article originally appeared here via Google News