October 17, 2018
No doubt when you think of technology and innovation, Silicon Valley comes to mind first as the oasis of our current tech boom. And rightfully so - seven of the world’s largest technology companies are based in Silicon Valley, making it the shining pillar by which all tech hubs - both current and future - will be judged in comparison.
However, the biggest mistake Silicon Valley could make right now is resting on its laurels and pedigree because there are a crop of emerging tech hubs looking to usurp it. A top contender is China’s Greater Bay Area which consists of Hong Kong, Macau and the Guangdong region.
The defining tech race of our time is underway, and while any new opponent to Silicon Valley’s reign will likely be viewed as the underdog, China’s chances look formidable. That’s because not only does China boast an impressive tech center of its own, it has the lessons learnt by Silicon Valley that can help mould the Greater Bay Area tech sector. Below are three lessons China’s tech hubs can learn from Silicon Valley to become dominant tech players.
1. Lifestyle Is Key
The San Francisco Bay Area’s appeal and the sheer amount of jobs available have drawn people far and wide to Silicon Valley for years, but now more Americans are leaving the area than moving to it. In fact, a recent think-tank of Bay Area residents found that 46% plan to leave the area within the next few years. This is because of the soaring cost of living, congested traffic and a greedy culture consumed by money and power.
China has a blueprint in Silicon Valley of how not to let tech innovation supersede the livelihoods of their citizens. By prioritizing affordable housing and utilizing tech innovation to solve problems such as homelessness and pollution that plague the Bay Area, China can create a much more desirable tech sector that attracts and retains people.
2. Education and Hard Work
The United States has long lagged behind China in education, particularly in the growing field of STEM, where many of today’s most talented young students are pursuing exciting and revolutionary careers in tech. On top of that, the innate cultural values of China prioritize hard work above all else. Innovation comes through iteration, but at the same time, China must brace itself for failure along the way.
Silicon Valley wasn’t built in a day. Learning and growing from mistakes made along the way, while maintaining that focus on hard work and education, will help China carve out a winning path for tech dominance. By making STEM opportunities available to all from an early age and cultivating an environment of innovation, China’s brightest minds can pursue careers that can buoy their ascension into a global tech player. Moreover, with an intellectual infrastructure of leading universities, it will attract the most talented tech minds from all over the world.
3. Diversity and Inclusion
An inclusive and collaborative environment is critical for appealing to top talent, retaining them and cultivating the best possible ideas for mass innovation. While still a crippling problem in Silicon Valley, China’s best bet of passing the OG tech sector would be to develop a tech hub with diversity and inclusion built into its foundation. After all, a diverse talent pool is the best fuel for innovation.
China should actively work on creating policies and clauses around diversity and corporate culture to foster welcoming, inclusive workplace environments from the get-go. This will ultimately encourage greater levels of entrepreneurship and scalability of the tech companies that emerge—companies that will have matured with a diverse group of employees that place the utmost stock in different perspectives in order to serve as global innovators.
Interested in learning more about the tech race between the San Francisco Bay Area and China’s emerging Greater Bay Area? Be sure to check out our Bay to Bay event series, kicking off October 31st in Hong Kong and December 4th in San Francisco. We’ll explore how innovation is evolving and highlight the style of entrepreneurialism and leadership that is increasingly shaping the world we live in. For more information, visit baytobay.com.