For decades now, jealous outsiders have pointed to the vast wealth stemming from Silicon Valley startups and asked, "Why on Earth can't we do that?"
Many have tried to trace the incredible rise of the Valley and its influence on the equally sharp surge in technology and Internet companies, but the growth of this former fruit-farming area in southern California has complex roots. The proximity of military bases and Stanford University certainly helped, as did local employment laws and the invention of the microprocessor in the late 1960s.
Quite rapidly, the Valley became a magnet for chip makers, hardware and software pioneers and Internet startups, attracting venture-capital funds, legal experts and other players that made it what it is today -- ground zero for the world's smartest technologists who possess a vision, a dream and an idea to change the world.
The obvious lure of the Valley for entrepreneurs might ensure its staying power. However, in recent years it's become clear that there is plenty of room for other areas to host their own dynamic centres and capitalise on the long boom in technology.
Already it's not hard to find evidence of technology globalisation. Just look, for example, at the way VC firms are scouting the globe for the next tech giant. Or ponder the rise of other areas with the 'Silicon' prefix in their names: Silicon Fen in Cambridge, Silicon Roundabout in east London, Silicon Wadi in Israel, Silicon Taiga in Russia, Silicon Peninsula in China, Silicon Gulf in the Philippines or Dubai Silicon Oasis.
But for Europe to catch up with - and, dare I say, overtake - California we need to make the process of building a company simpler, develop an environment that is supportive and encourage a more positive view of entrepreneurs in Europe. Among the major EU countries, at present sadly only the UK has developed a national plan to give startups the support they need.
In a recent letter from Wayra - Telefónica Digital's tech startups accelerator - to the EC's Vice President Neelie Kroes, I suggested ways to support Spanish entrepreneurs. Here, I'd like to look at the 'technology entrepreneur' culture from a European point of view, highlighting seven ways to give deserving startups a much-needed boost:
With these sorts of 'enablers' in place to build the right playing field for entrepreneurs, Europe has a fantastic chance of building on the pockets of success we're already seeing in cities like Berlin and London. If we take note of the California success story, put some crucial mechanisms in place and add our unique local market knowledge, we stand to build new 'Valleys', products and services -- and bring prosperity to our shores.