International Robotics Comes to RoboValley to Share Ideas, Commercial Goals

In the News
May 03, 2017

RoboValley in the Netherlands isn’t just a knockoff of Silicon Valley in the U.S.; it’s a role model of how a regional technology hub (in this case international robotics) can take advantage of local competencies.

For decades, from New Zealand to Norway and China to Chile, people from all over the world have been visiting the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose. They all wanted the same thing: the formula that makes Silicon Valley successful.

Countries have spent billions of dollars. Countless politicians of all tribes have visited California with numerous delegations. A steady stream of press releases has announced international robotics partnerships.

Yet, despite having the vision, money, and infrastructure, nobody has been able to recreate Silicon Valley’s magic on its home soil. The world still continues to come there for high-tech innovations, investments, and publicity.

Why are other regions unable to create a Silicon Valley of their own? Each nation has been trying to copy the American model instead of building on its own unique strengths.

How do you create a cabal around an idea? How do you think big? How do you develop courage to challenge the status quo?

You cannot copy these traits. You either have them, or you have to build them, which could take generations.

Robotics and AI change the game

Boston is rapidly becoming the global hub of hardware and commercial robots. The competition is intense between Detroit and Pittsburgh (not to mention Tokyo and Munich) around self-driving cars.

Still, Silicon Valley is widely considered the global capital of software development and hence artificial intelligence. If you add academic labs to the mix, it seems that the future of automation development also belongs to the U.S.

However, U.S. leadership isn’t a foregone conclusion. New centers of excellence are growing fast around the world. Unlike the “copy and paste” strategies that countries unsuccessfully tried in the past, they are now building robotics nodes from the ground up.

These new international robotics clusters are backed by futuristic thinking, a sense of urgency, and private and public funding.

The clusters in Odense, Denmark, and Munich, Germany, are quickly advancing, thanks to interest in collaborative robots and industrial automation. Tsukuba in Japan plans to become the first “robot city” in the world.

Anybody working in the robotics industry knows that Shenzhen, China, is ready to...

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