Gary - Thanks for the feedback. It is certainly true that Silicon Valley benefits from a large 'village' that is difficult to replicate anywhere else. But there are smart, experienced business people everywhere...
I know trade shows - including DAC - have organized panels and other events to help start-ups. EDAC also has activities to help start-ups but they are concentrated in the Valley. For example, recently Jim Hogan organized a series of panel discussions focused on different aspects of start-ups. Maybe it is time for a more complete track for start-ups at some of the trade shows you mention.
I would agree with your perspective, that having a community matters. We are seeing this in the latest startup wave, with sponsors supporting conferences and meet-up events. Of course, there is scouting for opportunities among the small firms and executives, as future clients, but more power to them!
In electronics and EDA, we can partake of the greater communities in our areas but when it gets down to specifics in our industry, everything still orbits around Silicon Valley because of our relative size. We can get advice and opinions, and meet with new people, whenever we can get to the area. But I often wonder if we can get to a size that can justify an effort like The C100, a group of expat Canadians who are nurturing startups back home and bringing them to opportunities in the Valley and conversely, sending people from the US startup scene like Brad Feld and Dave McClure (PayPal Mafia) to conferences in major Canadian cities.
Is it too soon to think of a startup track at major conferences in our field, like DAC and DATE and ASP-DAC, I wonder?