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Potential challenge to Silicon Valley’s position as tech innovation leader

In the recent KPMG 2012 Technology Innovation Survey, we discussed the potential challenge to Silicon Valley’s position as the centre of technological innovation. This got me thinking…do we have a contender for Africa’s Silicon Valley?

From the survey, 44% of respondents said that it’s likely that the world’s technology innovation centre will move from Silicon Valley to another country in the next four years. And some 29% of respondents globally predicted that the US and China had the highest potential to lead the charge in the next generation of tech innovation.

Next on the list of countries is India, named by 13% as the future leading innovation centre of the world. India was closely followed by Japan, Korea, and Canada. No mention of Africa.

A culture of innovation

Bearing in mind that we have a growing consumer base in Africa, with more and more access to bandwidth and connectivity, I feel this will drive a significant demand for African innovations to address our unique requirements on the continent.

This then leads us to ask how we go about creating more of an innovative culture in our communities. In the survey, we asked for the best mechanisms that respondents were using to create and drive an innovative culture in their organisations.

Respondents listed these factors as the most effective for an organisation to motivate its employees to be innovative:

  • Financial incentives (bonus, salary increase)
  • Career progression (Promotion)
  • Internal recognition (Acknowledgment)
  • Time allocation (Percentage of paid work time allocated to innovation, ideation)
  • External recognition (market place notoriety)

The most utilised by far was financial incentives. In my experience, I’ve seen South African organisations succeed in building an innovative culture with financial incentives.

Tech innovation hubs

Silicon Valley’s unique ecosystem is a solid foundation for companies – big and small – to continue to lead technology innovation. However, there is a tipping point for other technology hubs around the world to drive innovation leading to more collaboration across countries in the development of new technologies.

According to Gary Matuszak, Partner, Global and US Chair, KPMG’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice:

The key take away from this survey isn’t that Silicon Valley is becoming less of a force, but that other areas of the world are becoming important technology innovation hubs.

We have many examples of technology innovations that have been developed on our continent. With the boom in demand for connected solutions, I expect this trend to increase in the coming years. I’m confident that with the right support and drive, we can compete with the rest of the world’s ‘Silicon Valleys’.

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The KPMG 2012 Technology Innovation survey identifies disruptive technologies in consumer and enterprise markets over the next four years and spots leading innovation markets and innovation management trends in the technology industry. 668 technology executives took part in the survey, representing the top 10 countries driving technology innovation. The mix included technology startups, mid-market enterprises, large technology companies, venture capital firms and angel investors.

David Okwara

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