The New York Times

Aided by the Sea, Israel Overcomes an Old Foe: Drought
The New York Times

European countries have tried to replicate the critical mass of a Silicon Valley with technology centers like Oxford Science Park in Britain, “Silicon Allee” in Berlin and Isar Valley in Munich, and “Silicon Docks” in Dublin.

They all want a Silicon Valley,” Jacob Kirkegaard, a Danish economist and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told me this week. “But none of them can match the scale and focus on the new and truly innovative technologies you have in the United States. Europe and the rest of the world are playing catch-up, to the great frustration of policy makers there.”

There are institutional and structural barriers to innovation in Europe, like smaller pools of venture capital and rigid employment laws that restrict growth. But both Mr. Kirkegaard and Professor Moser, while noting that there are always individual exceptions to sweeping generalities about Europeans and Americans, said that the major barriers were cultural.

Often overlooked in the success of American start-ups is the even greater number of failures. “Fail fast, fail often” is a Silicon Valley mantra, and the freedom to innovate is inextricably linked to the freedom to fail. In Europe, failure carries a much greater stigma than it does in the United States. Bankruptcy codes are far more punitive, in contrast to the United States, where bankruptcy is simply a rite of passage for many successful entrepreneurs.

Europeans are also much less receptive to the kind of truly disruptive innovation represented by a Google or a Facebook, Mr. Kirkegaard said. He cited the example of Uber, the ride-hailing service that despite its German-sounding name is a thoroughly American upstart. Uber has been greeted in Europe like the arrival of a virus, and its reception says a lot about the power of incumbent taxi operators.

Message à tous les politiciens (il y a en a au Québec) qui pensent pouvoir recréer Silicon Valley à grand coup de subventions et de crédit d’impôt, ça ne fonctionne pas !

Silicon Valley ne pourra jamais être recréée par des politiciens puisque la pierre angulaire sur laquelle Silicon Valley s’est construite, ce n’est pas quelque chose que l’on peut reproduire par des politiques fiscales. Silicon Valley c’est d’abord et avant tout une culture qui a pu s’épanouir dans un environnement à l’abri des politiciens…