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1 A report from The Economist Intelligence Unit App nations: Start-ups, states and enterprises Sponsored by

2 Contents About the research 2 Summary 3 State of the app economy 5 What government can deliver 9 The app economy evolves 12 1

3 About the research App nations: is a report from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) sponsored by CA Technologies. In May and June 2016, The EIU conducted three integrated global surveys on the topic of the app economy, in which a total of 377 respondents took part. The start-up survey sample numbered 125 respondents; the enterprise sample 127 respondents; and the government sample 125 respondents. Our sincere thanks go to all those who participated. Please note that not all answers add up to 100%, either because of rounding or because respondents could provide multiple answers to some questions. Alongside the survey, the EIU conducted in-depth interviews with the following senior executives and experts (listed alphabetically): Marco Abele, head, digital banking, Credit Suisse Erkko Autio, chair, technology transfer and entrepreneurship, Imperial College London Business School John Borthwick, founder and CEO, betaworks Evangelos Simoudis, founder and managing director, Synapse Partners This report was written by Denis McCauley and edited by Sunmin Kim. 2

4 Summary The app economy is more than the sum of revenue generated by the production and use of mobile and web applications. Many governments view app companies, and the technology sector as a whole, as an important driver of economic and job growth in their nations, regions or localities. Moreover, given the ubiquitous nature of mobile and cloud computing, the entities that participate in the app economy start-ups, large enterprises and governments, along with research and academic institutions and informal, grass-root communities are representative of a country s broader technology innovation ecosystem. This report, based on a global survey of start-up, enterprise and government executives, examines the state of such interaction in the app economy, with a particular focus on identifying the optimal role for governments in helping businesses grow. Key findings from the research include the following: l The US has few peers as an app start-up environment. Most survey respondents startup and enterprise executives alike agree that the US is the world s best place to start or grow an app business. Germany, Canada, Australia, and the UK also receive honourable mention. However, Europe not North America is believed to have the greatest degree of collaboration between ecosystem stakeholders. l Governments are active ecosystem players. Almost 40% of both start-up and enterprise executives see their national governments taking measures to improve public especially internet infrastructure and to help companies expand overseas. Many start-up executives say a few specific types of government support, such as financial assistance, social support for their employees and the provision of workspace, have helped them to grow. l Governments value the app economy s contribution in their jurisdictions. More than seven of ten government respondents say app start-ups are an important or crucial driver of economic growth in their jurisdictions. The app economy is seen to have benefited respondents jurisdictions in three big ways: delivering better services to citizens; boosting employment and job growth; and helping connect citizens to government. l But opinions diverge on how effective government support is. Start-up and government respondents differ markedly on how effective the latter s support is. The divergences are most stark on the provision of social support to app economy employees and efforts to improve internet infrastructure. Clearly, start-up executives believe government can do much better in these and other areas to support their growth. Enterprise respondents, too, believe that government can do better. 3

5 l Government respondents to act on executives biggest concerns. Start-up and enterprise respondents believe that the greatest risks to their growth over the next couple of years will emanate from potential cyber-attacks and breaches of customer data. Governments seem in tune with these concerns. Threequarters of government respondents expect to toughen rules and standards relating to data privacy and cyber-security in the next two years. l Governments also plan to deliver more in several areas. Almost half of government survey respondents say they have plans in the works to purchase app services to improve agencies internal processes, to update rules and regulations for the app economy or to provide more social support for app economy employees. Nearly as many report plans to improve talent availability for technology firms through education and research initiatives. Experts interviewed for the report welcome some of these plans but say that governments will be most helpful if they focus on the physical and legal infrastructure that supports the app ecosystem. 4

6 State of the app economy Experts differ on the current growth trajectory of the global app economy. Some observe a decline in annual app downloads in the US and Europe and reach the conclusion that the app market is at its saturation point. Others believe that overall app economy revenue will continue to grow, particularly in emerging economies. 1 There is little dispute, however, that the app economy has already been an important contributor to economic and job growth in several countries. More than seven of ten government officials (72%) in the survey, for example, believe that app start-ups have had this impact in their respective jurisdictions. There is also a consensus amongst the survey respondents that the world s best environment for app-based businesses is found in the US. Evangelos Simoudis, a venture investor and founder of Synapse Partners, a venture capital firm, agrees: In my opinion, the US is the world s best environment for start-ups, full stop. Not only Silicon Valley but New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Austin and other hubs provide complete networks of entrepreneurs, venture investors, angel investors, corporate investors and large corporations that act as customers, partners or even acquirers. He adds to that supportive legal and tax regimes and communications infrastructure, which governments have been instrumental in providing. How collaborative does the interaction among these stakeholder groups need to be for the ecosystem to thrive? Collaboration, while important, isn t the key to a thriving app economy. In the survey, a majority of start-up respondents in each major region of the world Which do you think is the best country to start or grow an app business? % of respondents from each sample Start-ups Enterprises Government US Germany Canada UK Australia 1 A bullish outlook may be found here: com/2016/02/10/the-app-economy-could-double-to-101b-by research-firm-says/. A less optimistic view is reported in this article: 5

7 say their app economy is at least somewhat collaborative, more so in Europe and Asia-Pacific compared to those from North America. (And start-up respondents less often describe their ecosystems as collaborative compared with enterprise and government respondents.) Indeed, expert views on the importance of government collaboration, in particular, vary across regions. John Borthwick, CEO and founder of New York City-based betaworks, an app start-up studio, agrees that the US boasts highly supportive environments for tech start-ups but believes the best government approach to helping tech start-ups is a non-interventionist one. For Erkko Autio, who is chair of technology transfer and entrepreneurship at London s Imperial College Business School, a noninterventionist government approach makes sense in the US, where natural entrepreneur ecosystems are mature. In other regions where such ecosystems are much younger or incomplete, as in parts of Europe (London being a notable exception), he says governments often need to step in and provide more direct support. Business v government views If enterprise and start-up survey respondents are any judge, their governments are trying to be proactive. This is certainly the case at the national level, where almost 40% of start-up and enterprise respondents see governments taking measures to improve physical and especially internet infrastructure and to help start-ups expand overseas. All the experts interviewed for this report agree that infrastructure is the area where government efforts are most vital. And many start-up executives value some (though not all) forms of support that governments are providing. Perhaps not surprisingly, financial assistance in the form of grants or seed funding is high on this list. Others say that extending forms of social support to start-up employees (often freelancers and other non-permanent staff) have been very helpful to their firms growth, as has been providing workspace in co-working or other arrangements. Enterprise respondents, for their part, agree that social support for app economy employees has been very helpful to their own growth; other government initiatives they value highly include those taken to improve internet infrastructure and those to help firms expand internationally. While some experts doubt the value of government funding for start-ups, they agree that government initiatives can be instrumental in supporting a more flexible workforce and in expanding the pools of talent available to start-ups. As businesses grow, says Mr Simoudis, access to a good talent pool is vital and, increasingly, needs to be on a flexible basis. You may not need to hire them on a full-time basis, so you need flexibility in terms of under what Among the following ways that governments might support the app economy, which have been implemented at the national or state/provincial level? % of startup respondents National State/province Provide changes in public infrastructure that improve internet connectivity Provide initiatives for international expansion Provide specific, relevant social support for employees (ie, health insurance for freelance talent) Update or streamline regulations to enable the growth of app-based businesses Provide education, scholarships or research funding to improve tech talent

8 Out of the activities that your government undertakes to support the app economy, what effect have they had on your company s growth? % of start-up and enterprise respondents saying support has been very helpful to their growth Start-ups Provide specific, relevant social support for employees Provide direct investment (ie, grants, seed funding) Provide work spaces for start-ups Enterprises Provide specific, relevant social support for employees Provide changes in public infrastructure that improve internet connectivity Provide initiatives for international expansion conditions you are able to bring somebody into your company. Accessing experts on a more periodic or short-term basis is a really important way to advance your start-up. Mr Autio agrees, recognising however that liberalising labour regimes to accommodate a more flexible workforce is a major challenge in most of Europe. Start-up respondents views of the efficacy of government support may, on balance, be positive, but government respondents appear to believe the measures they are taking to be wildly successful. The gap in start-up respondents opinions is most stark when it comes to the provision of social support to app economy employees and efforts to improve internet infrastructure. The gap also exists when it comes to providing workspace and updating rules and regulations for the app economy. Many start-up respondents don t believe these government activities to be very helpful or relevant. Respondents deeming government support very helpful to start-up growth % of government and start-up respondents Provide specific, relevant social support for employees (ie health insurance for freelance talent) Provide changes in public infrastructure that improve internet connectivity Provide work spaces for start-ups Start-ups Government Update or streamline regulations to enable the growth of app-based businesses Provide direct investment (ie grants, seed funding)

9 Enterprises in the app economy What role do large companies play in the app ecosystem and how do they view the participation of start-ups? Enterprises have a generally positive view of their work with start-ups. More than one-third of respondents from this group (35%) describe their work with app start-ups as very helpful to their own growth and another 30% view them as slightly helpful. Only 22% found them hindering. This may signal a more open attitude to partnering with app start-ups that Mr Simoudis, amongst others, has observed of late. Corporations are starting to become much more open to working with start-ups, either because they have existential problems themselves or because they realise that if they do not take that approach, they may be disrupted irreversibly. This spirit of collaboration even extends to traditionally closed institutions such as large banks, according to Marco Abele, head of digital banking at Credit Suisse. We came to the conclusion a couple of years ago that a bank cannot continue to be relevant working on a stand-alone basis, he says. Credit Suisse now partners with mobile start-ups in several different areas, Mr Abele reports; these include fintech accelerators in which it and other Swiss banks support and obtain ideas from app start-ups. Start-ups: Was partnering with one or more large companies helpful? % of start-up respondents Enterprises: What effect did your work with start-ups have on your company s growth? % of enterprise respondents Yes, it was very helpful Yes, it was slightly helpful It made no difference No, it was slightly hindering No, it was very hindering Yes, it was very helpful Yes, it was slightly helpful It made no difference No, it was slightly hindering No, it was very hindering

10 What government can deliver Governments seeking ways to support app economy growth should first understand that start-ups needs evolve as they grow. Mr Simoudis describes it as a journey. When I m just getting going as a three-person start-up, I want access to financial resources, whether in the form of loans or venture funding. I also want good laws in terms of setting up and dissolving a company. And I obviously want good infrastructure, whether it is connectivity, roads, airports, etc. Once it starts to earn revenue and grow, he says, the start-up wants flexible labour laws. You want to be able to hire and fire people without a lot of restrictions, because business is very fluid at that level. You also want good intellectual property [IP] laws, because by then you ve started to create some IP and need to protect it. And you want access to universities, both to hire talent but also to find additional IP that may complement yours. At this and later stages, start-ups also look for government help in improving cyber-security, as do large enterprises. Infrastructure writ broad The good news from the research is that government officials appear broadly to recognise what both start-ups and enterprises need from them and that many have plans to deliver in the above and other areas. Among government survey respondents, close to half say that plans are in the works to purchase app services to improve agencies internal processes, to update rules and regulations to make them relevant to the app economy and to provide more social support for app economy employees. Nearly as many report plans to improve talent availability for technology firms through education and research initiatives. And another 42% say efforts will be undertaken to Government respondents whose organisations have plans to provide support to the app economy in different areas % of startup respondents Buy app services for internal processes or better engagement with the public Update or streamline regulations to enable the growth of app-based businesses Provide specific, relevant social support for employees Provide education, scholarships or research funding to improve tech talent Provide work spaces for start-ups Provide initiatives for international expansion

11 provide workspace for start-ups. The latter is strongly supported by Mr Autio, who believes that co-working spaces are catalysts of the types of knowledge spillover that help power the growth of start-up ecosystems. Of particular importance to large enterprises, 35% of government respondents also plan to provide initiatives for international expansion For Mr Borthwick, the above types of support (aside from purchasing app services, which he believes has little real impact on most start-ups) amount to shoring up infrastructure. And getting the infrastructure elements right, he says, is what government needs to focus on most. These include high levels of connectivity with highspeed fibre and wireless networks, and ensuring working space is available for start-ups. The other key elements, says Mr Borthwick, are talent and research. An obvious growth bottleneck for small technology players is a dearth of engineering talent. He complains that too many engineering students in the US shift to liberal arts programmes midway through their university careers (nearly 22% of undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and math across the country don t finish their degrees, according to a 2010 study by the University of California, Los Angeles ). A government initiative that he thinks will help reverse this in New York City is a plan launched by the previous mayor to establish an engineering and business school dedicated to producing local talent Cornell Tech. In ten years or less, he says, we re going to have a very good source of engineers and technical research in artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural-language processing and many other specialist areas. Marco Abele sees a similar dearth of design, algorithm and community-building skills in Switzerland s financial industry. In addition to education initiatives, the Swiss government, he says, is looking at adjusting its immigration regime in order to attract such talent from outside its borders. Focusing on regulation and cyber-security Yet another element of infrastructure critical to start-ups is the regulatory regime. As Mr Borthwick suggested and the survey also shows, rules and laws that make it easy to register a company, that protect IP, that enable the flexible management of labour and that prohibit anti-competitive behaviour, to name just a few, are high on start-ups wish list for government actions to support the app economy. Most important of all, however, is the issuance of rules and standards relating to cyber-security and privacy of consumer data. Both start-up and enterprise survey respondents agree that the greatest risks to their growth over the next couple of years will less often emanate from competition than from potential cyber-attacks and breaches of customer data (privacy). To what extent will the severity of each of these types of risks to your company s success in the app economy increase or decrease over the next two years? % of start-up and enterprise respondents expecting risks to increase somewhat or significantly Start-ups Enterprises Cybersecurity Privacy (eg risks to customer information) Competition from app start-ups Data sovereignty (eg geographic location and jurisdictional legal concerns) Compliance

12 To what extent do you expect regulations or laws related to the app economy to increase or decrease in stringency in your jurisdiction over the next two years? % of government respondents expecting stringency to increase somewhat or significantly Privacy (eg risks to customer information) Cybersecurity Compliance Data sovereignty Anti-trust or competition Governments seem in tune with these concerns. Three-quarters of surveyed government officials expect to toughen rules or laws in their jurisdictions relating to data privacy in the near future. Nearly as many (73%) say the same about cyber-security. Such government activism may also result in the issuance of standards and dissemination of good business practices. According to Mr Simoudis, the US government s various cyber initiatives launched over the past few years have proven useful for start-ups by providing advice on security practices and funding for cyber-security start-ups. All such efforts align with the conviction held by all stakeholders in the app economy that privacy and cyber-security regulations are important or critical to securing a level playing field for app start-ups and to addressing issues experienced by large enterprises as they grow their app-based businesses. Differing regional perspectives The app economy, along with its ecosystem, has clearly developed at different speeds in different parts of the world, with the US widely acknowledged as the global pacesetter. No surpise, then, that the perspectives of start-up, enterprise and government app economy stakeholders differ at times from region to region. Following are the most noteworthy divergences: l European start-up and enterprise respondents report more government activities to support the app economy at both national and state or provincial level. North American respondents report the fewest such initiatives. l European government officials generally have more plans in the works to provide different types of support to the app economy than do their counterparts elsewhere. l Asia-Pacific government officials, however, have a great focus on areas of education, social support for employees and providing workspaces for start-ups. l More stringent rules and regulations relating to cyber-security, compliance and anti-trust law were more often expected in Asia- Pacific over the next two years than in the other major regions. 11

13 The app economy evolves Technological innovation evolves rapidly, and some believe bots (including chatbots ), which incorporate artificial intelligence that directly interacts with customers will dominate in the next wave. Whatever the future holds for the app economy, the dynamics of its ecosystem are likely to endure. Tech start-ups of all stripes will undoubtedly remain engines of innovation, simultaneously posing competitive threats to and opportunities for larger players. And large enterprises will continue to recognise and act upon the opportunities afforded by focusing on app-based business growth. One element of change in the future evolution of the ecosystem, which this research shows there s some appetite for, may be more large enterprises seeking to benefit from collaboration with start-ups. Greater collaboration could involve, for example, seed funding, acceleration, partnering and idea-sharing (alongside, of course, cut-throat competition and acquisition). What of the government role? The research has revealed broad agreement among the different stakeholder groups, as well as experts, that governments best contributions to app economy growth are behind the scenes in areas such as improving the underlying physical and legal infrastructure, including labour regulations. Governments will also help by standard-setting for cyber-security and consumer data protection. As apps become more intelligent, data more voluminous and their analysis ever more sophisticated, the need for strong government guidance in these two areas seems likely to remain. Some governments at national, regional and local levels will undoubtedly do much more to help their app economies to grow. This may be warranted, as the strength and maturity of ecosystem players not to mention the wider culture of entrepreneurship can differ greatly from place to place, even within start-up-friendly countries. Striking the right balance of support for both start-ups and larger enterprises will remain an ever-present challenge for governments in the app economy and the broader technology ecosystem. 12

14 Whilst every effort has been taken to verify the accuracy of this information, neither The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd. nor the sponsor of this report can accept any responsibility or liability for reliance by any person on this report or any of the information, opinions or conclusions set out in the report. Cover: MikeKenny/Shutterstock 13

15 London 20 Cabot Square London E14 4QW United Kingdom Tel: (44.20) Fax: (44.20) New York 750 Third Avenue 5th Floor New York, NY United States Tel: (1.212) Fax: (1.212) Hong Kong 1301 Cityplaza Four 12 Taikoo Wan Road Taikoo Shing Hong Kong Tel: (852) Fax: (852) Geneva Boulevard des Tranchées Geneva Switzerland Tel: (41) Fax: (41)

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