Can urban innovation ecosystems be developed with little broadband infrastructure?
December 1, 2014 Editor 0We are witnesses the surge of tech startup ecosystems in cities globally. This is happening in both developed and developing countries. In my previous blog post I showed this trend and the studies that confirm it. Among the questions we are looking for in our research to map urban innovation ecosystems is whether there is a minimum set of requirements for these ecosystems to emerge. A minimum set of infrastructure or skills of the population, for instance. What we are encountering is that, although you need a minimum level of infrastructure, e.g., there must be at least some broadband connectivity and mobile phone networks, this level is much lower than many people expect. A city does not need to have 4G mobile broadband or fiber optic fixed broadband widespread. It is enough to have broadband connection in some key points (particularly hubs and collaboration spaces) and basic mobile phone coverage and use, e.g., 2G mobile phone service. A similar conclusion is applicable to the skill level of the population. The results of the study of New York tech ecosystem shows that almost half of the employment created by the ecosystem do not require bachelor’s degree. In this blog post I present the case of Nairobi and the tech start up ecosystems emerging in Africa and how these ecosystems can not only surge, but compete internationally despite having limited broadband connectivity (both mobile and fixed). This is also part of the paper I am working out and the research we are doing on urban innovation ecosystems.
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