What Will It Take To Build A Silicon Valley In Australia?

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Every year or so, in order to probably distract us from their complete cluelessness when it comes to digital innovation, Australian governments tell us how they plan to support technology companies buy creating our local answer to California’s Silicon Valley. At a recent conference, I had the chance to ask a panel of four senior managers and leaders of Silicon Valley unicorns what they thought governments could do to create environments where tech start ups can flourish.

The four leaders, who spoke at the recent NetEvents Global Press Press and Analyst Summit, were Guillaume Arnaud from Anaplan, Jim McNeil from NetScout, Rob Pickering from ServiceNow, and Stuart McCLure from Cylance.

Here’s what they said.

  • Government needs to get out of the way and not create policies that impede innovation.
  • They need to invest in education so kids are excited and equipped for a career in technology.
  • The reason government isn’t ready to take advantage of new technology isn’t always because they don’t want to but because their procurement and deployment methodologies are too slow.
  • Tax breaks are important so startups are able to invest early revenues back into development.
  • R&D centres that bring companies together are important as they foster cooperation and information sharing.
  • New companies can grow and shrink quickly. There’s a need for workforce flexibility and churn of people. Employment laws needs to accept firings as routine when companies fail.
  • Investment frameworks that simplify processes for investors are important.
  • Governments should look for opportunities to Invest in promising technology.
  • Finally, they need to create an environment for the ecosystem to grow. This includes places where academia, investors, marketers, engineers and others can work together closely.

What else do think is needed? Is it possible for Australia to create its own version of Silicon Valley?

Anthony Caruana attended the NetEvents Global Press Press and Analyst Summit in Silicon Valley as a guest of NetEvents


Comments

    You need a bigger market. Australia's population of 26 million just isn't big enough to be marketable compared the US population of 320 million.

    You also need stable currency - overseas investors are less inclined to invest if $100 invested in Australia is worth less than $100 tomorrow, just because of currency fluctuations. I know you can hedge your currency and interest rate risk, but that's a lot of hassles.

      There is a bigger market: the rest of the world. Israel has a thriving tech industry despite a much smaller population than Australia.

        Israel is pretty close to a major market like Europe but Australia isn't. And I have a feeling that they have a lot more spending related to the military which have historically boosted tech innovation.

    NBN not Go Slowed by LNP and Murdoch's media empire.

    You'll need a low area of land between hills or mountains to start with.

    Good ole Australia, keeping the convicts chained by lack of everything....

    Working for a tech startup in the outer east of Melbourne, location isn't as big a deal as you'd think (I wrote a blog about working in tech in Ringwood compared to the Valley):
    https://hronboard.me/2016/08/10-reasons-why-ringwood-is-the-best-place-to-work/

    "What Will It Take"?

    A government that sees technology, specifically the internet, as a utility rather than a luxury. That understands that you need a solid foundation to build on... brains (education) and tools (high-speed broadband) before you can build the kind of things coming out of Silicon Valley.

    Going back a number of years, a power plant shut down in Wollongong, and they were looking at this sort of thing to build on the site. Sadly, it didnt go ahead thanks largely to state Government intervention, but it was a strong idea at the time.

    With Wollongong Uni being so strong in IT, it would have been a wonderful combination. Pity it didnt happen.

    I'm leaving Wollongong for Canberra as IT work in the ACT is plentiful and there is a lot of startups happening... There's talks that the Port Kembla shutdowns will eventually make room for IT startups, but I'm not waiting around for that to happen.

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