RALEIGH — Back in the 1970s and 80s, Silicon Valley capitalized on local research, talent and resources to bolster the semiconductor industry and transform the region into the global tech hub it is today.

Could Raleigh be tracking the same path?

“Absolutely,” said Dr. Sarah Glova, director of Growth and Communications at RIoT. “Raleigh has [all] those things,” drawing parallels between the early days of Silicon Valley and today’s Triangle ecosystem.

However, other cities had similar factors working in its favor at the time, as she points out, but they never achieved Silicon Valley’s status.

The difference: a tech revolution, argued Glova.

If the Oak City is to become a tech hub of epic proportions, she adds, it will have to exploit the “fourth industrial revolution” related to the Internet of Things.

“IoT is absolutely our revolution,” said Glova, who presented her findings at the recent Innovate Raleigh Summit at Union Station. “For us, like Santa Clara had silicon and the semiconductor industry and the computer industry, Raleigh has IoT and wireless expertise, and everything that we need to make this a center of excellence.”

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Glova is helping to lead that initiative with her work at RIoT, originally founded in 2014 as NC RIoT. The group aims to support all things IoT and disruptive technology industry growth, with more than 5000 members and counting. It also runs its own lab and accelerator program.

Since its launch – under the leadership of its executive director Tom Snyder — Glova said the local ecosystem has changed exponentially.

“It was treated in the last few years as this cool tech that really only applies to the tech companies, and the nerds like me,” she said. “Now we’re seeing main street IoT, we’re seeing businesses with sensors in their refrigerators. We’re seeing farms with sensors in the soil. We’re seeing IoT become this revolution that applies to every business. “

However, Glova adds there’s also much to learn from Silicon Valley’s missteps – especially as it relates to diversity and inclusion.

“Silicon Valley isn’t necessarily a utopia. If you look at the companies that started from the ’50s through to the ’80s, a lot of the success was white males. As that trickled down, it’s a lot of the same-looking people doing those things.”

Raleigh needs to avoid that, she says.

“We can bring different voices at this stage so that later, as our tree of innovation and collaboration expands, we have that really important foundation.”

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