Digital innovation: why Silicon Valley will be replaced by a global valley



Silicon Valley is still synonymous with digital innovation and information technology. But for me, the new research in the  Startup Ecosystem Report 2012 by Telefonica Digital (@tefdigital) and the Startup Genome supports my view that we are seeing a shift to a global valley.

You can see the evidence in entrepreneurial stories from all over the world, Europe included: consider SoundCloud (Germany), MindCandy (UK), Spotify (Sweden), Mail.ru and Yandex (Russia) and Rovio (Finland).

Some of the global hubs will have local specialities, of course. London and Berlin are magnets for companies that work on the crossroads of advertising, marketing, digital arts and website creation. Bangalore is a hotspot for IT outsourcing. Israel has deep domain knowledge in computer security, as well as providing core R&D that companies like Intel rely on.

It’s also clear from the report that global hubs will have to offer a few essentials to capitalise on the digital opportunities. Political stability, a talent pool and education system, access to capital and mentors with knowledge… all these will provide a strong platform for cities and areas to create their own Silicon Valley equivalents.

Watch the worldwide digital innovation hubs:

Digital innovation: the most democratic commercial opportunity available

But fundamentally, I don’t think there is a way to stop digital innovation from spreading around the globe. It provides such an immense potential for growth, that you can’t imagine it staying confined in one place.

It’s so accessible too. Digital innovation is probably the most democratic commercial opportunity available to the world today. It doesn’t require vast wealth, mineral resources or a long history of participation in the sector and it does not respect colour, religion, social class or age.

Even more important than wealth, I think that global digital disruption is far more likely to bring deep societal change than previous innovation waves, because the digital revolution of today is open and inclusive. Look at the rapid rise of the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China, all of which have benefited by the changes wrought by technological advances.

I’m very optimistic about global innovation and entrepreneurship when reading this report. We live in a world of opportunity for people with ambition, passion, knowledge and the entrepreneurial gene. And the many thousands of digital startups that appear every year stand not only to make lots of money for themselves and their economies, but also change the world for the better in fields such as reusable energy sources and e-healthcare.

The chance to build the next global powerhouse such as Facebook, Google is one no country can afford to ignore, but the good news is that it’s a world open to anybody with a computer, a connection and – most important of all – a great new idea.

You can download the full Startup Ecosystem Report 2012 from Telefónica Digital and the Startup Genome and check out their interactive widget on Top 20 cities. Interact with the authors on Twitter @tefdigital and @startupcompass using #startupecosystem

Photo: Silicon Valley, vkurland, Flickr

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About the author

Gonzalo Martin-Villa

Gonzalo is CEO of Wayra Global - Telefónica Digital's global startups accelerator programme. You can follow Wayra on Twitter.

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