I recently came across the following tweet.
Dear countries, if you crave having your own Silicon Valley, you need to persuade & welcome immigrants to join you. pic.twitter.com/m2oVTPMUZY
— Paul Kirby (@paul1kirby) December 20, 2015
Basically, it shows how Silicon Valley has a greater share of foreign born people than California and the US. The difference exists no matter how you slice it. In fact, the difference is much greater for the employed population and people who work in the IT industry than it is for the overall population of each geography.
So if you’re looking to recreate Silicon Valley in your home country, attracting foreign born people is a prerequisite. This makes sense because, if we believe that intelligence and hard work are randomly distributed across the world, as I believe, there will always be more intelligent and hard working people living outside of your country than in your country. And attracting them to your country is the best way to increase your country’s competitiveness. This requires making it easy for them to enter and find work in the country, and making the country a place where they want to build a life.
Once in the country, they will self-select themselves into geographic communities that best position themselves around the people whose collaboration they need to succeed. So being a country of immigrants is the first step to creating a Silicon Valley-like region within a country.
Creating technology zones, giving tax credits for innovation projects, and setting aside government funds for venture capital are all well-intentioned. They produce incremental progress. However, they fail to address the core problem, and the core opportunity for moonshot progress. People.