Silicon Valley is undoubtedly the world’s technology epicentre. The success of this technology hub has continued to influence global innovators around the world.
Of the 131 startups valued at $1B and above Silicon Valley is home to 53 of them.
For some examples of its influence, programming schools are springing up faster than ever in Vietnam with help from the government. Chattanooga has been transformed from a railway hub to a 3D printing hub. Minneapolis created an incubation centre that drew investment from Google’s Eric Schmidt. Drone creators are springing forth all around the world even as far away as Israel.
Europe has not been left behind.
The UK has been largely influenced by Silicon Valley, making university spin-out company culture very common place. Today, at least one spin-out company based on research from an academic institution is formed every two months. From the early 2000 till date, spin-out companies linked to University of Oxford for example has attracted over £266 million in external investments. Five of such companies are presently listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market.
The spin-out culture has been largely successful and widely supported because the companies channel millions of pounds back into university research. They also create new jobs in their respective regions and are beneficial to local economic development.
The spin-out companies in the UK have so far continued to replicate Silicon Valley’s self-reinforcing success cycle. The companies are started on university research funds and after a while, they attract investments from venture capitalists. Some of them go public why others are bought providing capital to setup new companies and ideas.
How have UK spin-out companies been able to replicate this success?
The first factor that has influenced the success is the proximity of companies. In Silicon Valley, Google executives can get to Apple’s headquarters in less than 15 minutes. This allows brainstorming and closer hands-on collaborations. UK spin-out companies have been able to re-plicate this cosiness.
Secondly, the companies have mirrored Silicon Valley’s success by focusing on working with surrounding communities and going into partnerships that will benefit already established local businesses.
Most importantly, the companies have continued to work with the parent universities to recruit the best talents. Silicon Valley executives use smart drugs like Modafinil to push their talent to the limits but this is only possible if the talent is there in the first place. Without close partnership with the academic institutions, companies risk losing talent to the Silicon Valley. Partnership is vital because once bright talents make it into Silicon Valley, they tend not to leave. This is perhaps why some attempts to replicate the Silicon Valley’s success around the world have failed.
The recent launch of the Manchester Graphene Institute shows that the UK may just be getting started in its quest to become Europe’s technology hub.