• Can our universities create their own Silicon Valley?



    Silicon Valley has become synonymous with innovation.  Today, it houses the largest technology corporations in the US such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Tesla Motors, Cisco Systems, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, among others. It got its name because of the many silicon chip creators and manufacturers there.

    Silicon Valley is an acknowledged leader in developing radical ideas, encouraging start-up companies, and generat-ing breakthrough technologies.  The achievement of Silicon Valley and the breakthroughs there are also linked to Stanford University. Crunch Network writer Ritika Trikha observed that Stanford shares a relationship with Silicon Valley unlike any other university, one that promotes a self-perpetuating cycle of innovation. It is estimated that since the 1930’s to 2014 the university’s entrepreneurs have generated annual world revenues of $2.7 trillion, cre-ated 39,900 companies and 5.4 million jobs.

    Frederick Terman, the former Stanford’s provost, has been credited with jumpstarting the waves of innovation. The Stanford website emphasizes Terman’s leadership role, particularly through his campaign to build what is called “steeples of excellence” referring to clusters of outstanding science and engineering researchers who would attract the best students. (https://www.stanford.edu/about/history/history_ch3.html). As the Cold War began, Terman pushed for building the Stanford Industrial Park.

    This place brings academics and industry minds together in one location and inspires students to start their own companies. It is conceptualized as a new revenue stream for the university and is also available to private cutting-edge tech companies on lease.

    Two Kauffman Fellows, Ernestine Fu and Tim Hsia (2014), attributed Stanford’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to the following:

    A risk-taking culture that encourages one to develop an open attitude. To create an entrepreneurial ecosystem, students are provided with a broad worldview that is essential to develop as innovators and leaders. Further, the university encourages networking and collaboration across disciplines and schools; offers opportunities for testing ideas; and encourages students to get involved in research and prototype their ideas.

    A student body where the students are trained to be experts in one area but are broadly educated. The students develop strong teamwork skills; they are diverse and imaginative.

    A culture of giving back that is well entrenched as seen in the generosity of accomplished entrepreneurs and ven-ture capitalists who generously shared their time, money, and advise to students and start-ups. Tenured faculty members may teach classes, but seasoned entrepreneurs will share their experiences and insights; and, may also introduce students to potential funding sources.

    Abundant capital to support students for presenting their ideas or product prototypes to potential investors.

    Collaboration with industry. The proximity for mentorship and networking proves to be another factor leading to growth in entrepreneurship and innovation. Not just entrepreneurs do mentoring; faculty members also provide mentoring to local companies.
    Government support for research.

    The Stanford model could inspire our universities to turn the ideas developed and generated by the academe into viable products. Developing our own Silicon Valley can then become a strategy for economic growth and enhanced competitiveness in our communities. But if take these six conditions as a scorecard, how would our higher educa-tion institutions fare?  Do we have what it takes to be a Terman?  Do we have the structure that allows us to cham-pion and sponsor ideas?  Can we develop our own entrepreneurial ecosystem needed for creating our own Silicon Valley?

    Ms. Caning is a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) student at the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University. She welcomes comments at crescane@gmail.com. The views expressed above are the au-thor’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.


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    1 Comment

    1. C. Gordon Hale on

      I agree with the premise of this article that academic innovation has been a frequent catalyst for great scientific and technical advances. One minor quibble, if I may: Microsoft is based in the Seattle, Washington area, not in Silicon Valley of California.