THE BLOG

The MEF Brings Mobile to the Valley

05/09/2013 14:05 BST | Updated 04/11/2013 10:12 GMT

The etymology of the word gibberish is alleged to have originated from the Spanish/English language of Llanito spoken in Gibraltar.

Others say that it comes from the Irish word for mouth gab, as in gift of the gab, but whatever its origins, most people know that it is a synonym for nonsense.

In the tech world, a lot of people speak gibberish, sometimes to obfuscate, sometimes because they know things most of us will never know and sometimes because they like the sound of their own voices.

One such arena for gibberish is when it comes to cities that want to 'become the new Silicon Valley'. The list is endless. Chilecon Valley in Santiago, Silicon Savannah in Kenya, Silicon Kremlin in Moscow, Silicon Priarie in several remote US cities, Silicon Bog in Dublin, Silicon Docks in Belfast and even Silicon Roundabout and Silicon Mall in London.

The one thing these cities, and countless others, have in common is that they do not produce silicon and they desperately want to replicate the success of Silicon Valley in California. To date, they have realised that this isn't a easy copy.

The idea of a tech hub revolutionising our High Streets with trendy entrepreneurs spending large on coffees and lunches is an obviously attractive one and this trend Is not just just a figment in a town planner's imagination; it is real and it is happening, sometimes in the most unlikely of cities.

In deepest, darkest bankrupt Detroit, the previously defunct Madison Theater is now home to young entrepreneurs and regenerating that part of the city. As the song goes, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

For those who live and work in Silicon Valley, however, such attempts at emulation are smiled upon and endured because they do not yet represent a similar threat to the Valley's hold over talent and investment.

But there is surely enough to go around, but things will eventually change as they always do. At some stage rents and house prices will go so high in the Valley that the smart ones will have to go elsewhere. For those in Detroit, paying less than a dollar a week in rent is a very strong incentive.

For the future it is certain that the mobile area that will define the tech cluster. While Silicon Valley evolved from a defence to space to internet to social media and its current cloud cluster, the mobile revolution we are living through means that city tech hubs should be anchored in the mobile industry.

The world's main important mobile trade body, the MEF certainly seems to think so. The organisation describes itself as 'the global community for content and commerce' and over the past 13 years has been the champion of mobile innovation in all territories of the world including most recently the extraordinary success of mobile in Africa.

In November this year, its flagship event, the Meffys awards that have taken place in London for the past decade (apart from a foray to Cannes for a couple of years) is taking place in San Francisco in an effort to reconcile the talent that it fosters across the global mobile ecosystem to the city that leads the way in other cluster innovation; San Francisco.

The Meffys acknowledge companies, big or small, that work across every sector of mobile. The 14 categories range from games to mobile money to apps to life tools to publishing to emerging markets. They will be the centrepiece of the inaugural MEF Global Forum conference that will take place at San Francisco's InterContinental Hotel.

The first day of the conference will concentrate on innovation with introductions and presentations from Bay Area universities and accelerators while five Valley startups will pitch their businesses. The second day will include panellists and presentations from companies such as Shazam, Evernote, Silicon Valley Bank, Visa, Mozilla and many more.

The notion of trade conferences in a world that is accelerating is a quaint one and the organisers of such conferences are always looking to differentiate themselves, whether it is a Twitter wall at the conference or more imaginative storytelling platform such as those supplied by UK startup StoryStream.

The MEF, however, is acting like an innovative startup by leaping out of its comfort zone and taking the Meffys from London to San Francisco.

It is a strategy that is not without risks, but unlike a world full of the aforesaid gibberish where people spout nonsense, it is move that can be understood, and one that doesn't pretend to be Silicon Mobile Trade Body or any of those other silly Silicon Valley clones.