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Should We Recreate Silicon Valley Or Find Our Own Recipe For Success?

by Ben Stinton - 18th February 2014

Technology London

In the rush to become a centre for technological innovation, cities around the world have looked to clone Silicon Valley in the hope of achieving the same success. London's Silicon Roundabout is a classic 'clone Silicon Valley' where tax breaks have encouraged a nucleus of innovators.

What are the Ingredients for a Clone Valley?

A piece on the BBC website asked top IT executives what ingredients make Silicon Valley, and whether it is possible to replicate it.

In a nutshell, you need the following ingredients:

  • At least two universities with large faculties in the field
  • Large companies in the field based in the area
  • Low property costs
  • Government tax incentives or grants
  • Venture capitalists
  • An atmosphere of 'failure is experience' among innovators
  • Being a unique place in the right time for great things to happen

Birds of a Feather

In some areas of the UK you have most of these already. Centred around Oxford and its world class university is a biotechnology cluster - companies that seek to find high tech solutions for medicine and health. Over 400 large companies have bases in and around the city, connected through a number of networks such as OBN. This in turn is part of the so-called 'Golden Triangle' of London, Cambridge and Oxford biosciences and life sciences companies. Between the three points on the triangle, companies make hundreds of billions of pounds a year in turnover and help drive world medical science to new heights.

These all have graduates from top universities coming out with ideas, joining big companies or startups and innovating. Cambridge and Oxford aren't that expensive in property terms, and thanks to the nucleus of companies there, there is venture capital to be had if you're planning on the next cancer cure.


Silicon Valley and the Golden Triangle were not invented. They just emerged from a primordial soup of the right ingredients. In the same way we know the ingredients required to build a human but have yet to succeed, is it possible to build a better Silicon Valley?

To beat Silicon Valley at its own game by trying to create a clone isn't likely to happen. Being different, as the Valley was when it began, is likely to make the leap necessary to achieve great things.

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