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#CityTalk: The start-up city

Aerial view of Silicon Valley (c) Nouhailler

Across the world, cities are dubbed as places of opportunity. Part of this opportunity rests with the possibility of starting a business and becoming self-sustaining rather than relying on an employer. And from this, making a living and creating more jobs. Of course, much has been written about the success of places like Silicon Valley, and many cities and regions around the world have aimed to emulate this directly or indirectly to support an eco-system and culture of entrepreneurship. ‘Silicon Roundabout’ (East London Tech City) comes to mind, which located in Central and East London and is supported by local and national government who promote investment in the area due to the clustering of web and tech businesses.

According to the findings of Economist, Enrico Moretti (who used data on nine million workers in 320 U.S. metropolitan areas), each new innovation-job in a city, created five additional jobs —not only in professional occupations (lawyers, teachers, nurses) but also nonprofessional occupations (waiters, hairdressers, carpenters). He adds that “for each new software designer hired at Twitter in San Francisco, there are five new job openings for baristas, personal trainers, therapists and taxi drivers. The most important effect of high-tech companies on the local economy is outside high-tech.”

So is it this simple, and is innovation the secret ingredient?

Some may argue otherwise, and this is seen in the mixed results many cities have had who have shifted their attention to tech and innovation. Collaboration, a collaborative environment and long term thinking are essential, but it is the collection of many people, institutions and efforts which can truly support start-ups and entrepreneurship. Hence the term ecosystem was born, which signifies how complex the effort is, in different cities, to promote entrepreneurship and support job creation from the grassroots up.

So where does government, and in particular local government fit into this and support the formation of startup communities? We know that they should be creating an enabling environment, but is this limited to infrastructure and should different cities not have different levels of government involvement based on the amount of support and intervention required?

From incubators, to co-working spaces, to the reduction of red tape, examples from around the world exist around the approach of some cities in supporting start-ups, even with very little support from national or federal governments.

Join our next #CityTalk on 18 December 7PM BST/ 9PM GMT+2 when will be looking for your ideas and case studies, and tackle some burning question on the roles different institutions, including citizens, could play to support startup.

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Rashiq Fataar

Founder and MD at Future Cape Town

Rashiq Fataar is the founder, Editor in Chief and Managing Director of Future Cape Town.

  • Harry Valentine

    Entrepreneurial freedom is the basis for entrepreneurial activity. At present, too many American cities are restraining such activity in the form of municipal bylaws that prevent people from selling goods and produce from their driveways and front gardens (or front yards). Entrepreneurship is a function of individual initiative, good business ideas and inner courage (this is where pastors, imams, priests, ministers, rabbi’s, supportive friends and mentors have something to contribute). A support network that could encourage and support the development of the combination of a good business idea, a good marketing plan and the courage to initiate action could go far in terms of increasing entrepreneurial activity. Many good businesses have very humble beginnings . . starting from a kitchen table, a shed, a garage or a table on the front yard or driveway.

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