I had the distinct pleasure of keynoting One Region’s annual luncheon on startup and ecosystem building best practice. The 600+ person event included entrepreneurs, federal and state politicians, industry CEOs, non-profit leaders, university deans, and various service providers (some of which I expected like lawyers and others I was surprised to meet, like fiber optic players and green architects).
The question of the event was how to spur the regional development of North West Indiana.
But in many ways, it is a question about the future of innovation, and how local communities can catalyze startup ecosystems.
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In 2013, only four startup ecosystems outside the United States had given rise to a startup with a billion dollar valuation. Today over 110 have accomplished that feat, up nearly 50% from before the pandemic.
In this reshaped landscape, today’s biggest education technology company is from India; the largest robotic process automation business is from Romania; the largest digital bank is from Brazil; the largest mobile money offering is in Kenya; and of course, the largest social network, superapp, and ride hailing platform all hail from China.
The past may very well repeat itself.
One hundred years ago, the technology of the day was the automobile, and all innovation was concentrated in Detroit. Fast forward one hundred years, and today the sexiest sports cars come from Italy; the most reliable, from Japan; and the cheapest, from India. Shenzhen is arguably the capital of electrification. Automobile innovation has globalized. It has also specialized, birthing a multi-polar world of interdependence and differentiated expertise.
The same is already happening in innovation today. Silicon Valley no longer enjoys the monopoly it once had. The best place to build a cyber security startup today is Tel Aviv; to locate a consumer business, New York; and to tap into government innovation, Tallinn, Estonia.
What makes new ecosystems rise is part startup success, part flywheel and part community. Entrepreneurs are key to building entrepreneurial ecosystems. But they never act alone.
To succeed requires cross-sector collaboration. Gatherings like the One Region luncheon are visible reminders of the tireless efforts invested in myriad intersecting projects. These are often key building blocks that make it easier for entrepreneurs to start, scale and succeed.
What ecosystems are you excited about?
A few readings you may enjoy:
World Economic Forum research on economic impact of startup success
OECD research on innovation job creation
Forbes article on the importance of immigrants to startup success
Is Silicon Valley having it’s Detroit Moment?
I would be remiss not to include a link to Out-Innovate
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