The Next Silicon Valley

Why global collaboration between technology hubs is vital for economic growth

Collaboration is a key theme in the success of any innovation ecosystem. Collaboration across industry, university and government all contribute to the development and prosperity of a city, region or nation. But cross border-collaboration between hubs is also important, and it was very evident in the recent London Tech Week event that took place in London, UK.

During this week, I met with government representatives and trade delegations from the USA, Brazil, India, China, Turkey, Costa Rica, Mexico, Uruguay, Canada, Middle East and North Africa, South Africa, Singapore and many more. There was certainly plenty of talk of collaboration, partnerships and business between all.

Russ Shaw

I can think of no-one better in enabling these connections in the global tech ecosystem than Russ Shaw, a long-standing tech entrepreneur, and founder of the non-profit advocacy group in London called Tech London Advocates (TLA), which now has over 5,000 members from all parts of the London tech ecosystem. While the name of the organization has London in it, Russ Shaw is a true believer in connecting ecosystems, and as such has established network chapters in the Bay Area (San Francisco/San Jose), Bangalore (I should say Bengaluru as the official name), the Nordic area, and several other working groups to cover many other countries and regions. In fact, this month sees the launch of Tech Singapore Advocates as another cog in the globally connected ecosystem that he’s nurturing through TLA.

The whole idea of these groups is to connect ecosystems to foster partnerships and growth. In a blog article in the UK’s startups magazine, he says that in the tech industry, international cooperation and collaboration between individuals, businesses and sectors has been central to the sector’s runaway growth. Speaking of the need to embrace the spirit of international cooperation, he adds, “In London, a startup can find success by working with skilled European workers backed by capital from Asian investors. The same can be said for any major tech cluster around the world.”

“Hubs in the United States, South East Asia and Europe have generated ecosystems that store intellectual property (IP) and knowledge by exchanging information, experience and capital with one another.”

“What’s more, as emerging markets develop into modern economies, the potential to expend capital abroad has increased, providing European and American tech companies with lucrative investment opportunities.”

“In China, the rate of foreign direct investment has exploded, with capital flowing from East to West to support growth. Funds like China Science and Merchants (CSC Group), which manages investments in more than 100 cities globally, underline the value of a fluid system of international capital movement.”

He says the potential for technology is greater when we work together. Using London as an example, he cites the fact that almost half of the tech industry’s workers in the city hold an international passport. Tech companies rely on employing the best available talent to create tomorrow’s products and services.

In the blog, he adds, “In the same way that investment flows across borders, tech companies must be able to access the international workforce and ensure that they continue to grow. We must work to encourage connectivity across national boundaries, establishing networks that allow tech sectors to transfer knowledge and exchange ideas.”

He concludes, “We have seen the value in the exchange of new ideas and cultures, we understand the power of networks and we know that our potential is increased when we work together. That is why, providing we resolve questions on international talent, there’s no reason to assume that the process of tech internationalism will not accelerate, helping to unlock potential and drive growth across the globe.”

As a member of Tech London Advocates and having been involved in the launch of the networks in Bangalore and Singapore, I myself and many other advocates share Russ Shaw’s vision of connecting hubs for greater collaboration and growth. We can only hope that we can help move the needle on the ‘isolationist’ agendas of governments in the UK and the USA, so that they are finally convinced of the need for free movement of vital skills that enable this global collaboration – and ultimately economic growth and prosperity.

[Image: London skyline, from London & Partners]

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