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Rustic Pathways Global Perspective Series #4
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Rustic Pathways Global Perspective Series #4

What’s happening with technology and start-ups in your country?

In the US, Silicon Valley is known as the center of new tech. But increasingly in the US and globally, technology is democratizing. We asked our local partners what the tech scene looks like in their countries.

Australia

While developments in technology have traditionally been centered in Sydney and Melbourne, tech hubs are popping up in cities right across Australia. The scene has a real focus on liveability, sustainability, and inclusivity to ensure that all people can be involved in opportunities and the growth of smart cities.

Newcastle, Geelong, and Adelaide are particularly noteworthy when it comes to innovation. From driverless public shuttles to sensor-based rubbish bins that detect when they actually need emptying, economic and environmental efficiency are at the forefront of development. A key base for innovation has been Lot Fourteen in Adelaide, a precinct where businesses, government, and the education sector can collaborate on projects that create opportunities for culture, nature, enterprise, and people. In utilizing a range of people and sectors, the diversity in ideas being shared has resulted in great progress in innovation across the country.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has a vibrant startup and tech scene. There is a government office dedicated to entrepreneurship that supports startup owners through a network of “small business centers” across the country. Because the DR is on a Caribbean island that sees firsthand the effects of climate change, there are a lot of startups with an environmental bent to them. Eco-conscious social entrepreneurs are selling products made from recycled materials (e.g. Green Depot), offering messenger services on electric bikes (e.g. Ecomensajería), and protecting coral reefs by promoting chemical-free sunblock (e.g. Solo Coquette).
In the DR, the capital city of Santo Domingo is the center of all things tech. In recent years numerous foreign tech companies, mainly focused on taxi and delivery services, have established themselves in the city. They include big names like Uber, Spanish startups such as Cabify and Glovo, and Latin American startups such as Hugo and Pedidos Ya. Local startups have also made their mark in the local market. One to keep an eye on is Tilin, an app that connects pet owners to vet clinics, pet daycares, trainers, washers, dog walkers, and pet shops.

Fiji

While internet access is now widespread and accessible in Fiji thanks to a good 4G network, the country hasn’t created a favorable environment for high-tech entrepreneurs. Local universities favor agricultural research over all others, which is explained by the regional economy structure, dominated by (besides tourism and international aid) sugar and fish productions.
This situation puts serious constraints on the local pool of coding specialists, additionally drained by extensive “brains” migration abroad. On top of that, more than one-third of Fijians (predominantly rural islanders) live in poverty and the rest enjoy very modest standards of living with the country’s GDP per-capita slightly exceeding $6,000 USD, which is not good news for e-commerce entrepreneurs. Local high-tech startups may find their businesses seriously impeded by the small size of the local population, widely dispersed across large areas, and reduced to major cities only. In this situation, the best chance to survive as a tech entrepreneur is to target users with high disposable income like tourists.
Despite this situation, international organisations have been trying to promote innovative local startups. Recently, Rinesh Sharma of Smart Farms Fiji has been one of five people from around the world to receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and United Way to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. As the founder of Smart Farms Fiji, Mr. Sharma has developed the “Growing Essential Greens Home Kit System” as an innovative solution to the food security and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for Fiji.

India

India has around 3100 start-ups, with the addition of 1100+ new start-ups by end of 2019 alone. Bengaluru and NCR are the top 2 start-up destinations, together accounting for over 50% of start-ups. Young entrepreneurs dominate the start-up space, with over 73% founders in the age bracket of less than 36 years.
The southern part of India is responsible for the majority of technology and advancements the country has made. The golden triangle of IT and technology(Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai) forms the backbone of Indian manufacturing, R&D, science, and technology.
Micromax informatics, Clear trip, InMobi, PolicyBazaar are the innovative companies that you should keep eye on.

Thailand

Thailand has certainly joined the rest of the world in the ongoing technological revolution. Both Thai and International Companies operate and thrive in the capital city– Bangkok. Bangkok has various startups and thriving tech companies which serve both domestic and international markets. It has an impressive internet infrastructure and offers fiber broadband service which allows people and businesses to connect to the internet at incredibly fast speeds.
There is also an environment that supports emerging startups. The Thai government has poured 10 billion Thai Baht ($316 million USD) into helping to accelerate and create more startups in the country. This program has benefited many around the country. There is also a population of “digital nomads” from around the world who live in Thailand and work remotely for various companies or are collaborating on different projects. Remote working is certainly popular in Thailand as it offers delicious food, a low cost of living, and stunning nature, but there are larger companies operating here as well. As an example, Agoda has a corporate office in Bangkok with hundreds of employees both from Thailand and abroad.
With the emergence of Covid-19, many startups have flourished. Companies like Indy Dish, which deliver healthy foods with a zero-waste method. The company allows people to enjoy healthy food from the comfort of their home, and the founder’s mission is to help create a product that helps combat major health issues in Thailand such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.

About the Author

Scott Ingram