Make us your home page
Instagram

Trigaux: Metro areas need more than nerds to be called an innovation hub

"Nerds love Orlando." So starts the Upshot column, headlined What Is The Next 'Next Silicon Valley'? and published Thursday by the New York Times.

The nerd pitch arrived at the New York Times in public relations materials from the city of Orlando. "But as Orlando seeks to rebrand itself as 'a high tech hub for innovation,' " the column says, "it faces a lot of competition."

That's an understatement. But that's the way of these regional games of one-upmanship. Orlando, convinced it's got some tech mojo in the making, is daring to say: "Look at us."

Many metro areas beyond Silicon Valley and Seattle seek recognition as a technology hub. Tampa Bay is one of them. My column Sunday in the Tampa Bay Times was headlined At the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, it's time to stake a claim as a tech hub. It focused on the tech group's growing confidence that this metro area needs to tell the story that the depth of tech activity here deserves more respect and awareness.

The region's tech feedback I've received so far seems to boil down to this: Before we talk the talk, let's walk the walk. We need a breakthrough tech company started here to achieve enough size and innovation to spark questions like "What's up in Tampa Bay?"

"Painting the tech community with one big brush not only diminishes the efforts of those actually developing new products and organically generating high-skilled jobs, but it also perpetuates the notion that all we need is better PR to draw attention to our region," Ken Evans, an area technology executive, said in an email.

Then there is the geography game. Grow all the startups you like. But if they move to California for the venture capital or get bought and moved elsewhere by a bigger company, does that help build the local startup community?

The New York Times story pours statistical cold water on Orlando. It notes the metro area ranks low in tech assets. Citing Brookings data, it shows that among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, San Jose (Silicon Valley) ranks first in "advanced industry" employment as a share of total employment. Orlando ranks 73rd.

And Tampa Bay? It ranks 58th, above Orlando but just below Boise City in Idaho and just above the Buffalo area in New York. I'm just not sure these rankings best identify which metro areas really have the sizzle and the steak to become significant tech hubs.

The New York Times article does make a good suggestion. Places like Orlando and Tampa Bay might first pursue a more modest goal of becoming destinations where quality startups not only can take root but feel confident they do not have to relocate to survive.

I recently toured some of Orlando's young startup efforts. Nerds do like downtown Orlando. Just as nerds like many parts of the Tampa Bay area. So if you meet one today, be nice. And ask them to stick around.

Contact Robert Trigaux at rtrigaux@tampabay.com. Follow @venturetampabay.

Trigaux: Metro areas need more than nerds to be called an innovation hub 03/05/15 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2015 6:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. FBI warns of spreading W-2 email theft scheme

    Personal Finance

    The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms — scams that can put staffers' Social Security numbers and other critical information in the hands of thieves.

    The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms.
[McClatchy DC/TNS file photo]
  2. Walmart expands grocery delivery service to Tampa

    Retail

    TAMPA — Walmart is expanding its grocery delivery service to Tampa, the company announced Monday. Five locations will offer delivery for online grocery orders.

    Walmart is expanding its grocery delivery to Tampa, the company announced Monday. | [Times file photo]
  3. Marina at Hudson Beach poised to become 24-unit condominium-hotel

    Business

    HUDSON — One of the mainstay businesses at Hudson Beach is poised for redevelopment into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.

    The owners of Skeleton Key Marina in Hudson have filed preliminary plans with Pasco County to redevelop the site into a 24-unit condominium-hotel.
  4. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  5. SOCom seeks civilian drone pilots to develop new technology through ThunderDrone

    Macdill

    TAMPA — For the last three years, Nicole Abbett has been using drones as part of her photography business, with clients like the city of Tampa and construction companies.

    Josh Newby, 31, Palm Harbor, of Tampa Drones fly's a drone in England Brothers park, Pinellas Park, 8/25/16. As drone popularity increases as a hobby and business, local governments are navigating a legal grey area- where, when, and how should drone flights be allowed?