How the most innovative nation in the world, isn’t the most innovative nation in the world…

Pangyo Techno Valley v Silicon Valley

Some of you may have seen the visual I posted on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago showing that South Korea was voted the most innovative nation for the sixth year in a row.

As expected, there’s a little more to it than that. The visual was created by the team at Visual Capitalist who are amazing at translating data into easy-to-read and eye-catching graphics. The data itself stems from the Bloomberg innovation metric which looks at 7 key areas:-

  • R&D Spending
  • Patent Activity (per GDP)
  • Tertiary Efficiency
  • Manufacturing Value-added (exp & imp)
  • Productivity (working-age population)
  • High-tech Density (Tech v Domestic public companies)
  • Researcher Concentration (R&D Professionals)

Obviously, America spends way more than South Korea on R&D, 650% more to be accurate, but America is 100 times bigger and has a population of over 320 million, versus South Korea’s 50 million.

Below is a rough image of the size of South Korea compared to America.

Pangyo Techno Valley v Silicon Valley

(Image from www.mylifeelsewhere.com)

So how did this tiny nation become so technologically advanced? The simple answer is, The Pangyo Techno Valley (PVT). Probably a place not many of you have heard of but this is South Korea’s answer to Silicon Valley. Set up in 2004, 20 miles outside of the capital city of Seoul, the area has seen an investment of nearly $90 million from the South Korean government since its inception and is very much east Asia’s techno-hub. In the last 9 years the area has seen unprecedented growth, having gone from under 50 resident-companies in 2010 to almost 1,500 in 2019.

So, are the likes of Apple and Google going to move their organisations to PTV or set up offices there? Are Oxford & Cambridge Graduates going to be jumping on the first plane to get into the hustle and bustle of this booming bubble? In short, no. Why would they!? Korean firms such as LG and Samsung don’t even have offices there, they are just down the road in pretty impressive premises already. A huge portion of PTV companies are start-ups, from AI & machine learning to healthcare technology, there is some pretty cool stuff going on there (including driver-less buses), but it isn’t Silicon Valley.

I’ve recently read a book called “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” and it is fascinating and relevant, even 30 years on. One of the main principles in the book is that generally first is best. Think about it. When I see say ketchup, you think Heinz, when I say chocolate spread, you think Nutella when I say electric car, you think Tesla. Are these brands the best? Probably not (apart from Tesla). However, they are all the first major brands doing what they do, and it’s the same with tech zones. In 10 years’ time, we might all be zipping around the Pangyo Techno Valley on hover bikes whilst plugging Netflix into our eyes as a robot makes your dinner for when you get home. But it will never be Silicon Valley, it will never beat Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley was the first, and whilst South Korea continues to wow, it’ll never be the best – sorry Moon Jae-in, looks like Trump wins again!

(All stats and information from Wikipedia)

Originally published by Adam Scott on LinkedIn. 

KDR Recruitment is the home of the best data, technology and analytics jobs. For more tech news and views check out the KDR blog or follow KDR on LinkedIn.

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