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China could be the New Silicon Valley

Every tech start-up wants to be in Silicon Valley. It’s the coolest tech place to be in.

With great tech culture, creativity and energy, it isn’t hard to understand why. That’s coming from first hand experience, or at least from first impression. Having visited the valley recently, I fell in love with it immediately.

My visit was inspiring and thought provoking. Besides leaving me feeling small and insignificant, it also sets me thinking why Asia doesn’t have its own version of Silicon Valley. Are Asians less creative? Are we not creators?

I don’t think so. A look back at history shows that Asians are indeed creative. We invented the paper, arrows and fire rockets. Numbers were first introduced and popularized by the Arabians. To think about it, Asians have actually made quite a number of significant contributions to the world. We might be seen as copycats now but that’s how the world works, isn’t it? You’re either a leader or a follower. And admittedly, we are now the followers.

Despite being the followers, Asia is now a booming economy. You must be living in outer space to not realize it. To create our own silicon valley, the infrastructure, culture and education have to be right. Slowly but surely we’re getting there, especially with China, India and Japan leading the front.

China is growing at break neck speed, thanks to the tech clones. It isn’t the most glamorous way to start a tech culture but still, the copy model seems to work well. In my honest opinion, I believe innovations do give birth through the process of copying. Every tech companies copied aren’t copied blindly. They are localized and built for the market. For example, micro-transaction is first popularized in China and sites like Sina Weibo, China’s micro-blog are highly customized for local needs. In fact, I feel there are things which Twitter could pick up from its Chinese rival.

Talking about creators, Singapore’s tech company Creative was the first to invent the Sound Blaster system in our computers. Young tech start-ups like Koprol and Manga Castle have also provided evidences that the Asia market is catching up. We’re getting there, maybe in the next 5 to 10 years.

To fuel innovation, the Chinese government has introduced a patent development strategy. China aims to have 2 million patent applications by 2015. In contrast, the U.S has about 480,000 patent applications in the last 12 months. It is clear indication. To be a global leader, China understands that she has to create more than just imitate. China needs to innovate and this policy will be her blueprint toward building a Silicon Valley in Asia.

If you wish to ride on the wave, preparation should start now. Asia has a complete different language, culture and consumer behavior. Even though I’m a Chinese, I still have much to learn about the Chinese’s culture. My Taiwanese friends feel the same way too.

To sum it up, through continuous learning, innovating and coupled with a right patent development policy, we could possibly see a Silicon Valley in Asia. China is most likely to be the chosen location. Do you agree?

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