“Invisible innovation:” Tech entrepreneurs from emerging markets struggle for global visibility

In mid-October Colombia 4.0, an international event dedicated to digital content industries, highlighted the latest trends in animation, video games, web, mobile development, digital advertising, monetization, digital media, music and entrepreneurship.

During three days in Bogota, more than 190 national and international speakers were involved in lectures, panels and workshops. Among these speakers, Ukraine Digital News chief editor Adrien Henni highlighted the lack of coverage of innovative industries in emerging markets by international media and databases.

In his presentation (download link), Henni showed that only a miserable fraction of the news stories published in mainstream tech media are related to Central and Eastern Europe — even though the region’s tech scene has been developing considerably over the past few years, with local governments investing billions of dollars in state-of-the-art infrastructure and global players (such as Facebook, Naspers, OLX or Snapchat, to name a few) acquiring local companies.

The tech scenes of Latin America, Africa and the Middle-East are not better served. Only some Asian countries benefit from slightly better coverage.

Coverage of different areas of the world by TechCrunch 

Techcrunch coverage

Source: EWDN (indicative data based on 100 Techcrunch stories published on October 6-7 2016).

“Silicon Valley, along with a few western European and Asian hot spots, still attracts the better part of the world’s tech companies, investments, and talents,” Henni said.

“Overreflecting this reality, big media and databases target essentially US and western audience,” while their journalists lack awareness of innovation in the rest of the world, and usually do not speak local languages, Henni added.

What’s more, “companies from the emerging world rarely have the willingness, financial means, know-how, and/or connections, to communicate efficiently,” the chief editor believes, Ukraine being no exception.

As a result, local entrepreneurs need to struggle even harder than their western peers to attract international investors and partners, while government inititatives may fail to reach their international development targets.

Henni concluded his presentation on a slightly optimistic note.

“As innovation emerges from these new markets, media coverage will increase progressively, as illustrated by the strategies of some global players like CrunchBase and Spoke Intelligence, or local players like East-West Digital News in Eastern Europe or In-Nova in Latin America.”

Meanwhile, some local governments and private players are getting aware of the issue: they build local databases, stimulate media infrastructure, seek partnerships with global media and databases, Henni noted.

Colombia 4.0 is organized each year by the Colombian Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (MinTIC) with participation of government agencies Apps.co and ProColombia as well as software industry association Fedesoft.

Topics: Analysis & opinion, Events & contests, Online media
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