Monday, July 16, 2012

"Sergei Brin is still in California"

It is not surprising that many city managers, city council people and other boosters dream of their city becoming the next Silicon Valley.  In fact, there are quite a few places around the world that call themselves Technopolis.  City planners still hope to find the magic when it comes to creating the best clusters of high-tech firms or shells for such.  But there is no known way to bottle the magic.

Randy Holcombe (in Handbook of Creative Cities) says it best. "The idea of planning a creative city misses the whole point of creativity." (p. 403).

I had not heard about Skolkova, Russia, until I found "Can Russia create a new Silicon Valley ... Sergei Brin is still in California" in The Economist. No one knows how to create the culture that links original thinkers with innovate risk takers. And these are never stand-alone. They are part of a supply chain.  The Economist piece rightly refers to a proper "ecosystem".

When Russians last tried this, they got the Boikonour Cosmodrome and Sputniks.  But that venture helped to bankrupt the place.