#Asia Can India build the next Silicon Valley?


The rise of the Indian software industry coupled with the growth of the startup ecosystem raises the age-old question: Is India ready for its own Silicon Valley?

The author Jayashree Patnaik is Co-founder of AFC Services and Centre for Advanced Technologies, an initiative by IIT/IIM alumni. A Computer Science engineering graduate from CIT and alumnus from IIM Bangalore, she has worked with reputed organisations and covered a range of work that includes software development, processes and releases.

Silicon Valley is the world’s leading hub and startup ecosystem for high-tech innovation and development, accounting for one-third of all of the venture capital investments in the US. It has a social and business ethos that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. It was in the Valley that the silicon-based integrated circuit, the microprocessor and the microcomputer, among other key technologies, were developed.

Any attempts to re-create this ‘Silicon Valley’ is a great challenge for any country, as disruptive innovation is key to this vision. Novel technologies combined with astute management and advanced engineering are hard to emulate, though not impossible.

Do we have the resources to recreate Silicon Valley?

We have always known that Bangalore is regarded as the Silicon Valley of India. It has certainly emerged as a leading software and R&D subcontracting hub for multinationals. Over the years, India has become the fastest-growing platform for new startups, especially in the e-commerce space.

During his recent visit to the US, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking before a gathering of Silicon Valley CEOs, promised to make governance more accountable and transparent while assuring data privacy and security, intellectual property rights and cyber security.

Pitching his Digital India initiative to the titans of the IT world — attended among others by Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayan, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs and Google CEO Sunder Pichai — Modi announced plans to create more public Wi-Fi spots including at 500 railway stations across India and an aggressive expansion of the National Optical Fibre Network to take broadband to 600,000 villages.

A vibrant startup ecosystem and governance reforms are indicators of good times for the Indian software and startup industry.

Also Read: Bootstrapping is quite easy in India. Here is why

But amidst the optimism, a number of questions arise

Is the current Indian education system tuned to producing creative, problem-solving, fearless products who can innovate?

Do we have a complementary ecosystem in place to produce talented and risk-taking Indian entrepreneurs who can create disruptive innovation without being boggled by technical risks of the new enterprise?

Can the risk-averse Indians stretch beyond their conventional and convenient mindset?

Will the current Indian startup ecosystem innovate itself from replicating American ideas to producing original products? Successful companies like Flipkart and Ola are the Indian versions of Amazon and Uber, respectively.

Will India’s Silicon Valley go beyond back-office outsourcing activities(Wipro/Infosys model) to become a global hub of innovation, research and novel technologies?

Also Read: The joys and sorrows of starting up in India

The term Silicon Valley in India would be a misnomer otherwise.

On a lighter note, it may be worthwhile to introduce a new synecdoche (a term that denotes the whole ecosystem) for the Indian high-technology economic sector and make it as popular around the globe as ‘Silicon Valley’!

This article first appeared on LinkedIn. 

The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, please send us an email at writers[at]e27[dot]co

Image Credit: Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock

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