What conditions are necessary to replicate the Silicon Valley model

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Many people discuss how to replicate the Silicon Valley model of entrepreneurship and innovation. In my opinion, this is completely the wrong focus and will lead to incremental next steps of improvement at best.

Sociologists and behaviorists have studied the Silicon Valley environment for a long time and this information has long since been disseminated. People all over the world learned ‘how to create an environment that supports innovation’. As a result, little islands of duplicate Silicon Valleys are popping up in India, Route 128, Austin, and Seattle; Italy is attempting to be the world’s foremost software innovators, Germany the solar innovators, Scotland, China, Brazil have all learned enough to establish their own ‘Silicon Forest’, ‘Silicon Glen’, ‘Nanotech Middle Kingdom’, ‘Biotech Desert’, etc. All around the globe people are vigorously copying The Silicon Valley Environment in an attempt to build their area/state/country into the new global leader of innovation.

But there is a problem with the “develop an environment that supports innovation” theory. The Silicon Valley “environment” is all the researchers can see and so that is the easiest thing to copy. But innovation occurs largely inside the mind and therefore leaves few visible clues. If you cannot see the process the mind takes to invent, the environment surrounding innovation is the most obvious vestigial marker. The environment doesn’t lead to innovation; the brain does. A supportive environment may follow. Those clues observable in the environment, however, are merely shadows of a direct process.

If you want to learn to be a ‘serial innovator’ you must learn the step-by-step process of how the brain works; you must have drive and persistence to keep going because many people resist the inventive process. It takes courage and motivation to find this information and to head into uncharted territory past all the knowledge, skill, and expertise that we currently understand. The Environment is the least important thing to copy/duplicate. It’s the mindset, behaviors, and characteristics that enable serial invention. Get a group of these kind of people together in any environment, and you will see an innovation center blossom.

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