Silicon Valley is a promised land for startups. The flow of capital enhances the flow of ideas. Is it replicable in Europe or elsewhere?
From Heart’s Delight Valley to Silicon Valley
A combination of stories, this is what Silicon Valley is. It had them all: brilliant people, successful companies, forward-looking universities, state funding. The only lacking thing is silicon.
Old photos reveal quite a different place. It had another name too. The geographical denomination of what we call today “Silicon Valley” is Santa Clara Valley. However, it has been called the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” for years because of beautifully blooming fruit trees.
The turning point for the Valley arrived in the mid ’50 when the first transistor was invented. Back in these times, some companies started to build up their headquarter in Palo Alto and other places in San Francisco Bay Area and began to approach the government grants.
The dean of the School of Engineering at Stanford University, Frederick Terman, saw an opportunity in the emerging technologies and took a series of steps to facilitate the industry’s growth. He created a prototype of a startups incubator, granted leases for technological companies, and financed civilian tech startups.
A unique seed in a fertile ground
Many factors have contributed to the current shape of Silicon Valley. A careful analysis of these elements provides us with a story of innovation in a nutshell. Yet, it seems challenging to recreate this environment elsewhere, especially by using the “copy-paste” method.
In Europe, there have been various attempts to create a joint, innovation-driven ecosystem. Worth mentioning is the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, an independent EU body created in 2008. The EIT is one of the pillars of Horizon 2020, a flagship EU initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Nevertheless, it is doing an excellent job, repeating the success story of Silicon Valley seam out of its reach.
‘I always say that it’s not a matter of creating an ecosystem. You can’t create an ecosystem. You create big companies. When the company goes big, you can have everything else, not vice versa’ – Massimo Sgrelli, an Italian VC based in Bay Area, said at the Digital Roads to Sustainability, a conference promoted by Traent.
The history that changes the future
HP (Hewlett-Packard), Intel, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Netflix, PayPal, Uber – these are just a few stars born in Silicon Valley. As L. Knop claims, it is a “plug-and-play” environment. It means that innovators who want to do business in the Bay Area have easy access to top accounting, engineering, and public relations professionals on the ground.
However, what seems to be a real gamechanger is a mindset. Silicon Valley makes people think big, pursuit their dreams, and never give up. The get-up-and-go is maybe a secret ingredient of Silicon Valley’s success.