Often Imitated, Never Duplicated

Silicon Valley is without question the world’s most successful center of innovation. It’s the place where people, ideas, companies and capital converge to create the newest and best of … well … everything. Silicon Valley is the standard by which industry and technology clusters are measured.

Because the Valley has been so successful in developing intellectual property, turning out new companies, and birthing a seemingly endless flow of entrepreneurs, efforts to create similar creative environments are common. Communities and regions around the world are seeking to brand themselves in creative ways that they hope resonate with investors and entrepreneurs alike.

Thus, for example, there is Silicon Alley in NYC, and, a bit further south, Chilecon Valley.

While these and other regions can boast of successes, the fact remains that there is only one Silicon Valley.

Indeed, a recent article in Technology Review recounts the history of Silicon Valley and notes that every effort undertaken to recreate its unique environment has ultimately failed.

Sometimes universities failed to cooperate. In other cases industry players shied away from full partnership for competitive reasons.

In the end, though, what makes Silicon Valley Silicon Valley is not real estate or an org chart. It’s the people. It’s the relentless churning of aspirants who come to the region to hustle in the best possible sense of the word.

They hop from start-up to start-up, taking with them their intellectual capital, their creativity and their energy. They find around every corner like-minded thinkers nurtured and challenged by world-class universities that are themselves partnering with industry giants. They find capital and a culture that encourages risk, tolerates failure and celebrates creativity.

You can build a beautiful campus and dedicate glitzy workspace. You can brand yourself as the next new thing. You can throw money at companies and consultants eager to concoct the special sauce of economic development.

In the end, though, in a globalized economy, it’s all about the people. Find a way to attract the best and the brightest – and then find a way to keep them, engaged in their work in a supportive environment, surrounded by others with similar aspirations – and you’ll have accomplished more than any logo or slogan can hope to achieve.