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Is the perception of tech startups going to change from being heroes to villains this decade?

It was a pleasure to catchup in January with my friend from my Startup Ireland days, Donna Harris. We first met at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Medellín, Columbia, I was there to promote Ireland's hosting of the Startup Nations Summit.

As we chatted last week I realised we have a lot in common about our approach. Donna is creating a bottom up, builders movement. Her initiative (see - ) helps potential entrepreneurs vet, test and validate their ideas. The big attraction to Government in the noughties and the following decade of the startup sector was that research had found that these startups created 2/3rds of new jobs in developed economies. However is this now going to change? 

Donna's motivation for her new initiative was to create a counterbalance to the VC/Silicon Valley behemoth that is seeing startups with huge vaulations use AI and automation to move value from localities to Silicon Valley/Wall Street. Will the 'move fast, break things' ethos of these startups have unintended long term consequences for our communities? I believe that it will, as I argue in my opinion piece for the EU Digital SME Alliance ( 

From cloud computing to ride-hailing, from food delivery to online ordering from Amazon, these all take a bite of varying sizes out of the income of local SMEs in sectors as diverse as restaurants, retailers, or IT solutions providers. The financial engineering of America's stock exchange demands ever upwards leaps in profits which means more and more pots of value have to be targetted. 

Donna's goal is to help create bottom up, resilient localities that have a sense of agency in their economic well being, something our Digital First Communities model seeks to advance too. I look forward to inviting Donna to speak at our Dargan Forum on Digital First Communities next July.


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