If you're working on a startup this year in a developed country, you likely won't feel the immense pressure to leave and head to Silicon Valley for funding or to acquire new talent. A decade ago, it was almost unheard of for startups in other countries to secure funding in their home countries, and finding the right people to help one build and grow a company was difficult if not impossible. Many major developed countries across the globe have seen the emergence of startup hubs & neighborhoods rise in recent years. Governments and local VC's are funding and investing in local startups, and there are many incentives and programs for young aspiring entrepreneurs who want to join or build a startup. The Middle East is simply no different.
One of China's more unflattering reputations is its tendency to mirror other countries' products and businesses. For every successful business in the U.S., there is most likely a direct proxy in China -- some only fundamentally similar, others more blatantly so. For instance, China has its own version of Steve Jobs, who not only started what is seen as the "Apple of China", but also dresses like his American counterpart. But this perception will soon fade away as more radical innovation start to come from the East.
What then needs to be done in order to shift the balance to other regions? We need to build more "AI ecosystems". If there are more ecosystems focused on AI, then everyone will be better prepared for what researchers, the business community, analysts and investors identify as the "next big thing". Moreover, creating more ecosystems of this kind will help policymakers better address the challenges, opportunities and even the threat created by the implementation of artificial intelligence. But, in pursuing this goal, we need to realize that we don't need any sort of ecosystem, but the "right kind" of ecosystem.
UPDATE June 13, 2017: Last week I posted V1 of our Map of the Canadian AI Ecosystem, and since then I've been inundated with additions. While it's still incomplete, I thought it was important to update the map currently being sent around and reinforce the idea that this ecosystem is in constant flux. Already, our list has mushroomed from about 160 startups to over 550. Goes to show how much is happening just below our attention. I've been putting together a map on Canada's AI ecosystem, which I first revealed last week in my keynote on C2 Montreal's main stage.