Don't mimic Silicon Valley, Australians urged

Summary:The leading technological experts behind President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign say Australia should not try to copy America's Silicon Valley.

In the past five years, there's been a growing campaign to create the so-called "Silicon Beach" in Australia — mirroring California's tech hub, home to the world's leading IT and social media companies.

Google is one of a number of entities backing the idea, encouraging more Australians to launch tech start-ups and urging schools and universities to teach more computer science and engineering subjects.

The sector continues to grow in Australia, with about 1,500 start-ups and with a number of big name companies, including Twitter, increasing their presence here.

But Harper Reed, chief technology officer for Obama's re-election campaign, said that Australian tech companies must retain their own identity.

"I think every city, every region, should really represent what they do well," he told the CeBIT technology conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

"If you want to go and build a company that exists in Silicon Valley, then you should go and do it there.

"But if you want to build a company that is Australian, that represents your culture and your being, then you should do it in Sydney."

Rayid Ghani, the chief data scientist for the Obama campaign, said Sydney had some key advantages over Silicon Valley, including proximity to Asia.

Asked for his advice about what existing Australian company CEOs could do better, Reed said: "The first thing I would do is make sure that they are tweeting. Because they can start listening to the problems with their business personally."

Topics: Start-Ups, Australia, Government : AU, Social Enterprise

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