May 22, 2006

Government initiatives needed for technology development

There’s a general consensus among those who know more about developing countries than I do that the ideal scenario for technology-led economic development is a public/private partnership. Even so, I think there are only two absolute requirements for government participation:

1. Removal of barriers

2. Education

And of course in some countries, even higher education can be provided by the private or at least non-governmental sector.

To see why I believe that’s all that’s necessary, just look at some success stories. What else did the US government do? Yes, military research, but that’s really just another form of education. Ditto Israel. India’s government didn’t do much except fund the IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and create some zones in which barriers to commerce were removed a few years faster than they were in the rest of the country.

Looking further at the US, one might think that regional advantages of some sort are crucial. After all, look at the concentrations of activity in Silicon Valley, around Rte. 128, etc. But a closer look shows this is largely a myth. For example, over the course of my analytical career, I’ve visited software vendors in over 20 states — all up and down the Eastern Seaboard, all through the Rust Belt, up and down the West Coast, in Texas, in Arkansas, in Wisconsin, in Minnesota, and so on.

That’s the good news. The more challenging point is that there’s a LOT involved in “barrier removal.” Categories include but are not limited to (and of course I picked a lot of this up at or in connection with TechLeb, most particularly from Kevin Carroll):

And finally, it is highly desirable to have a government agency provide “one-stop shopping” for navigating the bureaucracy and, where needed, learning about the local business landscape. Even in the US, cities have this. It is certainly a good idea for developing countries.


One Response to “Government initiatives needed for technology development”

  1. The Monash Report»Blog Archive » Why an actual peace treaty is essential in Lebanon on July 31st, 2006 9:22 am

    […] I ran a panel at the recent TechLeb conference. On that panel, we extrapolated from the successful experiences of countries such as Ireland, India, and the United States itself, trying to figure out how best Lebanon could grow a technology industry, with all the benefits tech-led economic development brings. And there were lots of good, specific suggestions. But those details aren’t important now. What is essential — more than anything — is that there be a reliable peace. Nothing else matters – not pride, not vengeance, not even justice. Just a secure peace, internally and externally alike. […]

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