What we need is a Tech Boom

I’d like everyone in rural and regional Australia to read “Screw the mining boom, let’s create a tech boom“. In essence it discusses how the mining boom is on its decline (it will be a long slow burn, say 40-50 years) and that what Australia needs to do now is start investing in the next big thing now – and that’s going to be the tech industry.

I’ve always seen the investment in the NBN as the equivalent to the investments in the railways that helped open up our country (and most of the western world), generate an income and connect our vast country. However over the last 50 years the biggest problem we in the regions have faced has been the drain of population towards the cities. Then along comes the NBN which creates a new paradigm and gives regional Australia an opportunity for growth and prosperity that will be great for the country as a whole. Instead of services being centred around the cities we will see a shift to the regions because we will be on par for the core requirement of the tech industry – fast, efficient data access.

So why won’t the opportunities and investment remain in the cities? Well over the last 20 years they’ve become too expensive, really really expensive. So much that Sydney is now the second most expensive city in the world behind Tokyo to do business. Regional Australia looks really good when you look at the cost of living and the cost of building space – let alone the benefits to lifestyle. When you equalise the main component of an industry through the NBN you can decentralise the workforce – so why wouldn’t you move to the regions?

Well that probably has something to do with talent, which is often in short supply in the regions having been vampired by the cities. What the regions need is a way of creating a continuous pool of talent and keeping them in the regions. If we take a look across the pond the tech industry is primarily located in Silicon Valley. That’s because of its links to the talent pool generated by Stanford University and the early investment by the University to keep that talent close by. To address the financial demands of Stanford’s growth requirements, and to provide local employment opportunities for graduating students they used university lands to set up the Stanford Industrial Park. To tap into the talent pool they also created the Honours Cooperative Program to allow full-time employees of the companies to pursue graduate degrees from the University on a part-time basis.

So my proposal? We already have a number of universities situated across regional Australia. So lets capitalise on the NBN and start to invest in the tech boom! Let’s invest in our students and our communities and help make them strong by building a future for them. We can capitalise on the number of graduates across a wide range of disciplines to feed into the new system. Lets start an Honours and Post Grad programs that allows students to work and build an industry while gaining key qualifications. Let’s invest and promote innovation on a global scale.

I would love to hear Wagga Wagga mentioned in the same breath as Silicon Valley – without it being in jest 🙂

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