How to start up startups? Clusters versus communities? Another controversy…

…in the making.

All countries, regions, cities, neighbourhoods want to rock (economically speaking). Having lots of flourishing startups is a symptom if not a cause. It’s sexy. At the Tel-Aviv airport bookshop last Wednesday I finally opted for Ian Mc Ewan’s « Sweet Tooth », but Senor & Singer’s « Start Up Nation » was on my short list…

The widely accepted doxa is that entrepreneurship will not self-start. You have to help it. How? By encouraging clusters. Silicon Valley is the model.

Hence the French policy of Poles de Compétitivité, which was reported here last month. And Jorma Nieminen’s impending PhD on Clusters and Innovation. (Jorma was at the heart of the Finnish Telecom miracle in the 80s and his thesis will take a sober look at the concept and reality of the cluster paradigm.)

And this morning, MIT Technology Review features a really interesting opinion plus an interview of Brad Feld, who states that « Clusters or hubs are words that have very negative connotations to me. They describe things that governments try to create, and the vast majority of those efforts have not been successful. »

Feld’s argument boils down to this:  « entrepreneurs must be the “leaders.”  Everyone else—universities, governments, investors—are “feeders” that, though important, can’t kick-start a startup community on their own…  if even fewer than a dozen established entrepreneurs team up and get serious—create an incubator, for instance…nearly any city from Detroit to Cape Town can create a meaningful startup sector. »

It would be nice if our underground innovation friends in Paris could stage a mini controversy debate around this theme asap!

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A propos markowskikrys

I run an advanced Masters programme on project management and innovation at ESIEE
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