Why Can’t My Town Be the Next Silicon Valley?

What makes Silicon Valley a hub for startups and innovation?  What created it? And what can other cities and locations do to foster more innovation?

When I was working as an evangelist for Microsoft, these questions came up a lot.

There was always a civic leader, politician, policy maker, etc who lamented the state of affairs of their local tech economy.  Very often, these folks would do everything they could to make their city the “next Silicon Valley.”

After hearing them out, I would encourage them not to strive to be the next Silicon Valley, but to take the best of their community’s existing skills and assets and turn that into a strategic advantage in the technology industry.

The DCTech scene, for instance, can focus on innovation in highly regulated industries where public policy decisions shape business structures and procedures.  This is something that Evan Burfield emphasized in this interview for Frank’s World TV back in 2014. Steve Case has also made similar points during his “Rise of the Rest” Tour.

It took a lot of time, money, and historical coincidences to create Silicon Valley and it’s not very likely to happen again in exactly the same order.  Venture Capitalist Peter Thiel gives a few clues into what it takes to be the next startup hub, the current state of the university system, and more.

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