Technology is big business. It’s shaping the way we work, live, play and spend, so it’s no surprise that governments all over the world are clamouring to invest and support the ‘next big thing’.
The rewards are tangible. For instance, Sageworks conducted a financial statement analysis of privately held companies, and identified the field of ‘Computer systems design and related services’ as one of the fastest-growing industries of 2013.
As we have explored previously on OfficingToday, TMT (Technology, Media and Telecommunications) and FinTech (Financial Technology) are breaking out of East London’s tech hubs and muscling into the corporate world of Canary Wharf. With coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators and hungry investors keen to play a part in creating the next Google or develop the next Bill Gates, this is an exciting time to be a tech startup.
It’s an exciting time for workspace operators too. These are ambitious, high-growth companies that want to get noticed. While the spare room has produced many an influential entrepreneur, tech startups need the right footing, the right team and the right backing. For most, that means a business address and a professional fit-out, which is good news for coworking and business centre operators.
So where is the next big thing? One thing we do know is that they’re not exclusive to established tech hubs like California’s Silicon Valley or London’s TechCity. There are plenty of other up-and-coming tech hub locations around the world that are attracting promising startups and future tech stars.
Here, we run down our top six emerging tech locations, and why these cities are considered hot right now. What do you think? Which location would you add?
Dubbed the ‘Russian Silicon Valley’, the Skolkovo Innovation Center near Moscow aims to develop tech startups and foster entrepreneurialism. It was launched in 2009 by then Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and co-chaired by former Intel CEO Craig Barrett. In essence, it aims to fast-track startups to commercial success and position Moscow as a city of innovation. While it has its work cut out, the forthcoming Winter Olympics and various marketing campaigns – including a travelling roadshow – are helping to push the project into the spotlight.
Bangalore has traditionally held the title of Indian tech hub, but now Pune is fighting for its piece of the pie. Mashable’s Monty Munford believes Pune is the ‘next big thing’, and not just because it has a relatively trouble-free transportation network. Described as a “hotbed of innovation”, Pune is working hard to develop its startup ecosystem – and it’s certainly getting noticed.
We’re familiar with East London’s TechCity and its aspirations to become the next Silicon Valley (not altogether helped by its more modest title of Silicon Roundabout) – but many believe that Cambridge already wears the UK tech crown. FT.com noted that Cambridge benefits from skills in computer science which has created large, listed companies. It’s an enterprising town at heart that creates – and keeps – successful entrepreneurs. However, its future strength may lie in collaboration with London’s and Oxford’s tech market, as part of the so-called ‘Golden Triangle’. A UK government report introduces it thus: “The triangle of London – Cambridge – Oxford is the kernel in the UK of cutting-edge high tech industry developments. Government is determined to support this ongoing focus of economic development within the UK economy.”
SeedStarsWorld offers a great infographic on why Bangkok in Thailand is the one to watch. Among the stats worth noting, 35% of the city’s population is under 24 years old, which adds up to a healthy population of innovative tech enthusiasts and forward-thinking entrepreneurs. Watch out, California.
Kansas City, U.S.
Entrepreneur.com singles out Kansas City as one of 9 unexpected U.S. tech hubs, in particular due to its city-sponsored initiative to attract innovative startups through various schemes – among them, free and low-cost office space. The city is home to a healthy investment scene and also benefits from Google Fiber’s free internet service.
Tel Aviv, Israel
The UK and Israel have partnered in the name of technology. The UK-Israel Tech Hub is a pilot programme based at the British Embassy Israel, and aims to partner British companies with “the best of Israeli innovation”. The Hub is the first initiative of this kind at an embassy, but it’s not the city’s only tech incubator. Microsoft has a tech startup accelerator here, and the city has a burgeoning startup scene. Nathalie Boulanger, director of Orange Startup Ecosystem, says: “With more than 5,000 startups and more engineers per capita than anywhere else in the world, Israel is a natural hub of innovation.”
Update 20th Feb 2014: Reference to Google Fiber’s “free” Internet service in Kansas City has been amended, as the gigabit version carries a charge, although standard connection is free.