The next Silicon Valley? You're kidding, right?
Google the phrase, and you'll find an archive of old stories with titles like "India likely to be the next Silicon Valley," "Could the next Silicon Valley be in a developing country?" "Is Vietnam the next Silicon Valley?" Or my favorite: "Could Silicon Valley be the next Detroit?"
Long the preeminent high-tech center in North America and the world, Silicon Valley saw unrivaled success that has proved very tough to clone or import. The Valley has done a great job over the years of attracting and retaining global talent and local capital, and of building world-class tech companies around brilliant ideas.
But as last week's General Motors bankruptcy shows, the U.S. industrial base is undergoing wrenching change. And on the technology front, R&D in everything from electronics to solar tech is increasingly being done outside of Silicon Valley. Technology innovation itself has become globalized.
As history has shown, tough economic times don't halt the evolution of technologies and their applications. On the contrary, tech innovation can drive economic recovery and strengthen competitiveness. Consequently, such innovation has become a national imperative in many nations around the world.
Last week, the International Association of Science Parks (IASP) held its annual conference. The event, hosted in Raleigh, N.C., by Research Triangle Park, drew more than 700 delegates from more than 40 countries, representing all quarters of the global innovation economy. As one delegate from the Berlin Adlershof tech cluster put it, "The hard-core tech sector is doing very well."
Like Silicon Valley, regional tech centers from Brazil to Bangalore are finding that technology development thrives in an environment of creative intellectual energy that offers a networked economy, proximity to research institutions and universities, unique intellectual property development, a diverse base of high-tech talent, access to investment capital and infrastructure. As IASP delegates would attest, these attributes are now characteristic of many metropolitan regions around the world.