Vallée d'innovation ou montagne de demande ?

BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON – Tout le monde veut savoir comment construire la prochaine Silicon Valley : un pôle d'innovation qui attire les talents et le capital et qui crée des emplois, des entreprises et des secteurs entièrement nouveaux. Les gouvernements des pays développés s'escriment à subventionner une technologie qui pourrait être la prochaine grande innovation. Les décideurs des marchés émergents espèrent que des encouragements tels que l'allègement fiscal et de taxes foncières pousseront les entreprises innovantes à s'y implanter et à y prospérer. Mais il manque un ingrédient essentiel à la plupart de ces programmes aux intentions louables : la demande.

La demande d'innovation dans des secteurs technologiques spécifiques a été le point commun de tous les points chauds high-tech et de toutes les inventions majeures. Des avancées technologiques comme les antibiotiques et les automobiles ont répondu à un besoin impérieux éprouvé par un grand nombre de consommateurs. Les projets gouvernementaux comme le programme Apollo aux Etats-Unis, conçu pour envoyer un homme sur la Lune, ont créé une demande pour des technologies plus rudimentaires (des inventions dont personne n'avait jamais éprouvé le besoin auparavant).

La Silicon Valley elle-même a été construite à la demande. Le Ministère de la Défense des Etats-Unis a mobilisé des dizaines de milliards de dollars de contrats dans le secteur de la microélectronique, ainsin qu'un engagement pour rembourser progressivement le risque des innovateurs et l'infrastructure pour soutenir la croissance des nouvelles entreprises.

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