Singapore considered top alternative tech hub to Silicon Valley

20 March 2020 Consultancy.asia

Singapore has taken top spot as a potential world-leading technology hub according to KPMG’s latest survey of industry insiders, with seven out of the top ten locales situated in Asia.

Every year, global professional services firm KPMG puts the same question to some of the world’s leading tech industry executives: which cities do they foresee taking over as the world’s top tech innovation hubs should there be a move away from Silicon Valley? Jumping up from only seventh last year, the latest survey has seen Singapore emerge on top, with seven of the top ten picks spread across Asia.

With modern infrastructure now cited as the most important factor in enabling a city to become a technology innovation center (pointed to by one third of the 800 respondents), Singapore was noted for its advanced IT infrastructure, strong government support and intellectual property laws, and for its deep talent pool. The city-state claimed the title from New York, which slid to fifth, while Beijing dropped from second to seventh.

Altogether, seven of the top ten spots were in Asia, compared to six last year, with Bangalore and Hong Kong joining the list at ninth and tenth and the previously fifth-placed Taipei falling out. The other Asian cities to appear were in order Tokyo in fourth and Shanghai in sixth (both down one spot), along with Seoul, which was steady at eighth. London moved up one spot into second, while Tel Aviv jumped twelve places to third.

Singapore considered top alternative tech hub to Silicon Valley

Mumbai and Shenzhen – the latter where global tech-minded professional services firm Accenture established a new innovation hub last year – also both moved into the top 20, with Taipei holding onto the last spot. Still, and despite other US cities such as Boston, Austin, Washington and L.A. all sliding, the position of Silicon Valley in the minds of the respondents has strengthened on last year’s poll.  

Compared to 58 percent last year, only 37 percent now believe that the tech centre of the world will shift from Silicon Valley within the next four years, with one explanation given being continued US efforts to protect critical emerging technologies. On the flip-side, among those who were of the opinion that Silicon Valley would lose its mantle, the most common reason given was that infrastructure would begin to catch up elsewhere.

Another reason cited was the rise of virtual collaboration tools – yet this factor could swing the movement both ways, with the rise of micro-hubs (noted among them, Hsinchu in Taiwan, which has become a centre for semiconductor manufacturing and computer technology) creating a landscape where cities can cater to a certain niches instead of trying to directly compete and take away market share from global centres, and in so cement Silicon Valley’s status.

Still, with the global talent shortage growing ever greater, human resources will undoubtedly play a big part in any future developments, with San Francisco already experiencing a chronic rent crunch (although unmentioned in the report, the situation may not be at forefront of executive minds. After infrastructure, an urban locale which attracts young professionals was the second most important factor, while talent pipelines were cited by a quarter of respondents.