FIA Athens 2014: How Could Europe Grow its Own Silicon Valley

Their experiences from the biggest technology and innovation ecosystem worldwide, that being Silicon Valley, as well as their views on how Europe could grow its own, MITEF/Stanford Venture Lab’s Gigi Wang and MIT’s David Shrier shared during a workshop organised by the FutureEnterprise FP7 project at Future Internet Assembly 2014 held in Athens the previous week.

Gigi Wang shared the elements of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial and innovation culture that could be transferred to the european mentality to develop a new, entrepreneurship-friendly culture:
Open-ness: People need to trust. Trust begins with transparency and open-ness, share information to build trust with others.
Collaboration: People need to share ideas and work on problems together, even with their competitors.
Risk-taking: Innovation and entrepreneurship requires going beyond your comfort zone to go where others have not.
Integrity: Required if to be open and to collaborate, not just about being honest but adopting a give & take objective
Accessibility: Successful leaders and entrepreneurs to be open and available for youngs and share their advice and learning
Constructive feedback: Absolutely critical to listen to – not just hear – the feedback. It needs to be constructive, not just negative criticism.
Empowerment: Startups should empower everyone in their teams so they can contribute to their fullest with ideas
Sharing the Wealth: Give equitable pay, stock options, perks to employers and advisors.
Lack of jealousy: Silicon Valley exhibits a much less jealous culture than some parts of Europe, people there see it as an opportunity to have a relationship with someone successful.

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Building on Wang’s presentation Shrier talked about the factors that helped New York to emerge as the second biggest venture capital market in the world – only behind Silicon Valley – and of course a big innovation cluster:
Liquid labor market
Failure tolerance
Second generation entrepreneurs
Developing a risk capital market
Decentralized and cooperative environment

Driving from that New York experience, Shrier shared a few advices and recommendations on how Europe could create a regional innovation cluster:
More risk capital. European VC market is about the 22% of the US VC market and EC has an important role to play on developing it
Progressive labor market
Building on local successes for focus (ie. mobile, design, gaming, agriculture etc.) to grow competency and differentiation
Liberalisation of path to citizenship for immigrant entrepreneurs
Tax reform to promote entrepreneurship and encourage venture capital
– More direct government support of early-stage startups


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