As former Apple evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, noted recently (in contradiction to the usual hype) – Silicon Valley’s core reason for success is not about venture capital, easy finance, legal structures or marketing but simply the engineering and computer science departments of Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley. A critical mass of engineers and engineering students has created an unprecedented level of ingenuity and innovation. This has resulted in an ongoing slew of innovative (perhaps prototype) products and services. At this point funding took the prototype products to the next level.
Silicon Valley is the cradle of High Tech Heaven
Silicon Valley has developed from a small university town into home of some of the largest technology firms in the world (including Apple – the world’s largest company) and Adobe, Google, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard and YouTube.
Governments have used the wrong formula
Governments throughout the world (being largely controlled by lawyers and business types) have tried to recreate Silicon Valley prototypes through funding and tax breaks; but this generally doesn’t work as innovation and success doesn’t (initially) come from money but from plain old engineering ingenuity.
Patents aren’t the panacea either
No one can patent their way to success either. Just starting out to get your patent finally recognised can take an enormous amount of money and at least five years (if it isn’t stolen in the interim). By this time, the “technology horse” has bolted. So either the company with the concept is dead in the water or worth squillions of dollars and enormously successful (before the actual patent has been granted).
Creating your own mini Silicon Valley
So how do you create your own mini Silicon Valley?
- Gather a lot of innovative engineers and engineering students together
- Ensure the focus is in ‘breaking the mould’ and doing things outside the norm
- Set targets for the impossible
- Encourage and give space for innovation
- Educate on how to take the products to market
- At this point introduce the finance types to provide the next stage of commercialisation
In creating something successful, David Brinkley is so right in saying:
A successful (wo)man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him or her.
Thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald and Guy Kawasaki (CEO of Garage Technology Ventures) for some interesting reading.
Yours in engineering learning