Co-founder of Apple and tech evangelist, Steve Wozniak has called for greater support for Asia's tech professionals and entrepreneurs. He believes the Asia tech scene does not receive the credit nor support it warrants, as global focus is perpetually on Silicon Valley.
"When we think of great start ups and where they began you can't help but look towards the United States and Silicon Valley where I first started and the history making achievements there," said Wozniak, who is judging the Talent Unleashed Awards 2014 - for the first time. "But more and more we're seeing interesting start ups flourish outside of Silicon Valley in places such as the UK and India but also in Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Finland, and Brazil to name just some."
"APAC has some great start up hubs but what it needs is the global recognition. The USA works well to promote its industry and the startups there are well placed to access VC and other types of support and financing. But now we need to focus on the rest of the world."
Wozniak is judging this year's Australia-based Unleashed Awards along with other judges such as Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, and Joel Neoh, Head of Groupon Asia Pacific. According to the award organisers, Talent International, the Awards serves as a platform for Venture Capitalists and the wider business community to meet raw talent, new start ups and exceptional leaders in their respective fields.
Not enough being done
Richard Earl, Founder and Managing Director of Talent International, said that not enough is being done to encourage innovation in the APAC region and if the industry and its entrepreneurs don't act now, it could be too late.
"Our concern is the insufficient interest and activity at a grass roots level in terms of innovation, ideas and technology start-ups," said Earl. "This is becoming more of a concern in Australia than ever before - we need to provide the same support as our counterparts in Northern America."
Wozniak said that global industry attention is often biased towards Silicon Valley to the detriment of originality and creative difference from global influences.
"We all know diversity brings so much more to the table and by focusing outside of the usual and rewarding all sorts of people in tech, we can only make it better," he said.
Earl is calling for government and business leaders to put greater faith in start-ups by increasing access to start-up capital for new businesses, tax incentives for innovation, support for research, and a better business culture to assist entrepreneurs and promote competition.
"We need to recognise that at times we live in a risk-averse region and this needs to be addressed. If we're naturally less inclined to support and finance innovation, to implement new processes and to apply new technologies; then we need strategies to overcome that." he said.
Wozniak called for a meaningful platform for regional entrepreneurs and tech start ups to connect with credible investors who will support them.
Disrupt the status quo
Wozniak has also urged anyone working in new technologies to disrupt the corporate status quo and be bold, brave and believe in themselves.
"It's a wild ride getting an idea off the ground and to pave the way for more start ups to become huge powerful companies which are changing things for the better, we need to highlight these people that work in this incredible industry right now and that's why I'm involved in the Unleashed Awards," he said, enunciating his support for the startup awards.
"And what we also don't hear so much is the voices of the people behind them -all the people working within them, the quiet coders, and the developers who are often overlooked time and time again."
"It's important that the truth be told; who does all the work to pull the idea and thought into the new computer, the new software platform or just the new way of doing things. These people often have almost super human concentration and focus and play with hundreds of obscure engineering and programming sequences in their heads. We want to know them and we want to recognise," he added.
Talent International is a global IT&T Recruitment and Technology services specialist supplying thousands of contract and permanent technology professionals to businesses across all aspects of the IT, Telco, and Digital sectors. The company has four offices throughout Australia, New Zealand, the UK and SE and NE Asia. The company has revenues exceeding AUD$300 million per annum.