One of the cool things about living here in Wellington (quite apart from the ‘summer’) is the knowledge that there are increasing numbers of bright and dynamic people being attracted to the increasing numbers of bright and dynamic people. The last few years have seen the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong – of course, the Dam Busters is on the way and then there are the less obvious, but never-the-less present opening burst for Disney, and bits and bobs for the X-Men movies etc etc – all finding their way out of the mines of Miramar. There’s a flurry of smaller scale (perhaps more creative for the lack of scale) movie production, including the mad 48-hour movie animals. The WOW – World of Wearable Art – and again, the major and minor players in the fashion industry. The games writing industry. The web mavens. Mainstream, sidestream, slipstream. Seems more and more people are moving and shaking. Fantastic!
It’s particularly nice to see (after all the mutterings and sighings over rapidly cooling lattes) Silicon Welly finally getting legs. Yay!
Silicon Welly? WTF? From the web site:
Silicon Welly is a community of Wellington based, and New Zealand owned technology and creative businesses, individuals and organisations who together are making Wellington a high quality global hi-tech hub.
We-e-e-ll, I don’t know, a high quality, global hi-tech hub? Eh?
Sure, why not? I wrote back in July 2006 about Wellington’s creative class – inspired by Richard Florida’s book ‘The Flight of the Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent‘, and the need to encourage creative individuals to settle here. From Richard Florida’s web site:
“Rather than a single deathblow, the U.S. is much more likely to see its dominance eroded by the sting of a thousand cuts.” As opposed to any one or two nations taking on superpower standing, a whole host of up-and-comers will begin to compete vigorously at the cutting edge of the global economy. From Finland, Ireland, and New Zealand to Sweden, Australia, and Canada, countries not previously considered major global competitors will begin to outdo the United States in key 21st century niches – from biotech and manufacturing to entertainment and even high-tech.
The crux of this looming economic crisis lies in the growing global competition for talent. The United States – which has long been the preferred destination for the world’s top entrepreneurial, innovative, scientific, artistic and cultural talent – is for the first time losing this key historical advantage. […]
Compounding America’s looming creativity crisis is the dynamic nature of creative class workers, who seek not only fulfilling jobs, but also tolerant and vibrant communities and cities. This new class of workers does not define itself by national boundaries, but is highly mobile, willing to relocate for the best social, cultural, and economic opportunities. The creative class, 38 million strong in the U.S., produces a disproportionate share of wealth., accounting for nearly half of all wages and salaries earned – as much as the manufacturing and service sectors combined. […]
To meet the economic challenges of the new century, America must continue to be open to foreign talent, while at the same time developing educational, cultural, scientific, and entrepreneurial opportunities that tap the creativity of a greater segment of its own population. Unless the U.S. can attract, retain, and grow top-notch creative talent, the increasingly intense competition will continue to weaken its economy.
New Zealand would not be exempt from this – we had the same thing happen between the 70s through to the 90s. When I wrote back in 2006 I didn’t foresee Wellington (indeed, New Zealand) ever becoming a manufacturing centre – I think Shenzhen has pretty well got the nation whipped there. I think Mumbai (aka Bollywood) has pretty much closed the helpdesk market unto itself. I do think there’s room on the raft for highly creative small (and not-so-small) companies to float in the hi-tech niches. Some will succeed, some will vanish, and probably all will morph into something new. And that’s ok – there has to be a climate, a potential for change and creative opportunity.
Personally, I think Silicon Welly is a great idea. More than that, I’m inclined to believe that these are exactly the kinds of zones the Wellington City Council should be fostering, even more than the incentives programme, and the Positively Wellington Business initiative. In this case, more is more.