March 5, 2015

Can Australia become the next Silicon Valley?


Google offices

Recently, I heard Alexander Chung speak at Pausefest in Melbourne. He’s an innovation and technology strategist who has worked with some of Silicon Valley’s best. He posed the question: could Australia become the next Silicon Valley?

The short answer? No. Not at our current rate. Our government funding for research and development – the key to a tech boom, like SV – is at a thirty year low. That puts Australia at a distinct disadvantage against being able to catch up to, let alone surpass, existing industry hotspots.

But could we become the next Silicon Valley?

Of course! The price of higher education in Australia is increasing, while the price of learning to code is dropping. Meanwhile, according to Chung, the value of higher education is falling and knowing how to code is more valuable than ever.

However. We shouldn’t want to be the “next Silicon Valley”, Chung said. Instead, we should be our own brand of tech boom. Chung implores us to “be unlike”. ‘We don’t need another,’ he said. ‘We need an other.’

Chung spoke of the importance of not just copying from the template – while we copy, other innovation hubs will boom, and Australia would be stuck playing catch-up infinitely.

When you work off a template, Chung said, you miss the most important bit. You miss the ethics, and that ethos and culture is what actually lets you be innovative.

Tech boom, mate

Chung is sure that an Australian version of Silicon Valley would be built on the moral code of mateship. Not only is it the Australian way, but it’s the only way we could surpass existing industry hubs.

‘If you’re not about sharing knowledge,’ Chung said, ‘you’re not about innovation.’ An Australian hub would be about sharing information, lending resources, and investing into each other. Leveraging that mateship is how we could make our impact.

It takes a village to raise a Silicon Valley

So why would we want to base a booming industry hub in Australia?

Apart from the obvious growth in tech jobs and influence, Enrico Moretti, author of The New Geography of Jobs, wrote that a concentrated job growth in the tech industry generates five times as many indirect jobs.

Where a new community is built around a thriving industry, auxiliary industries are also needed. These are everything from law firms and accountants, to healthcare, to education, to hospitality, to trade.

So what do you think?

How would a tech hub in Australia work? How would we differ to the original Silicon Valley?

Let us know!

And if you’re a tech startup needing some influential communications to get you off the ground, let’s chat. Whether you’re in Sydney, Perth, or Woolloomooloo, we’re marketing copywriters in Melbourne who aren’t afraid of  virtual meetings. We’re enthusiastic as you are about the future of Australian tech.

Image via Personeelsnet.

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