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Silicon Valley Everywhere

For decades, Silicon Valley was the unparalleled epicenter of high-tech innovation, and regions that tried to imitate its success did not succeed. But recently, the competition has gotten fiercer – and, unlike the original, it is overwhelmingly centered in urban areas.

CAMBRIDGE – During the last decades of the twentieth century, Silicon Valley was the unparalleled epicenter of high-tech innovation. Other regions tried to imitate its success, but none succeeded. France’s Sophia Antipolis, a top-down attempt by the government to create an innovation hub near Cannes, never evolved beyond its origins as a relatively tranquil technology park – notwithstanding its mythological name, California-like weather, and the surrounding area’s unbeatable gastronomy.

In the twenty-first century, however, Silicon Valley’s competition has gotten fiercer – as reflected by the increasing number of locations affixing the chemical element to their names: Silicon Alley (New York), Silicon Wadi (Tel Aviv), Silicon Sentier (Paris), etc. In London, for example, the emergence of Silicon Roundabout in the late 2000s caught the British government almost by surprise. Now rebranded Tech City, the innovation hub in the old Shoreditch neighborhood has evolved into one of London’s key economic engines and talent magnets.

Similar scripts are playing out around the world. In Berlin, a new startup is said to be founded every 20 minutes. Paris is busy building what will be Europe’s largest incubator at Halle Freyssinet. And in Tel Aviv, the phrase “Startup Nation” has gone from a political slogan to economic reality.

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