Silicon Valley & the Connecticut River Valley are More Similar Than You May Think
It’s no accident that innovation occurs in clusters. It wasn’t by coincidence that Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Botticelli, and Raphael happened to all make their masterworks in late medieval Florence. The kind of novel thinking and breakthrough discoveries that are truly novel, unique, and significant are products of a functional, progressive, motivated, educated, and prioritized ecosystem in which originality is encouraged, creativity is rewarded, and the support network is strong.
California’s Silicon Valley is frequently praised for providing this environment to businesses, inventors, and innovators. French entrepreneur Loïc Le Meur told a European publication that he moved his company to Silicon Valley because:
“in the Valley, the best companies, entrepreneurs and investors are all in one place. It feels like a campus. Everything you do, from the morning run to the coffee run, is a networking opportunity. Compare this to the fragmentation in Europe, where the next meeting is always a flight away, and you can see why things simply happen more slowly over there. Thirty languages and insufficiently fluent English slow things down even further.”
Additionally, the central Californian basin is situated near large metropolitan centers like San Francisco and Sacremento, and top-teir academic institutions like Stanford and UC Berkeley and Davis.
An image we recently discovered, produced by the Connecticut Economic Resource Center, made us stop to consider- doesn’t Connecticut boast the same attributes that makes Silicon Valley so successful?
The megalopolis that stretches from the nation’s capital through New York City and into Boston envelops Connecticut in a sweetly convenient position to connect itself with ease to some of the most technologically and economically significant cities in the nation, beyond its own internal hubs like Stamford, New Haven, and Hartford.
The interconnectedness of the Northeast, and especially within the relatively small Connecticut, provide the campus-like feel that Le Meur couldn’t find in Europe.
Like Silicon Valley, Connecticut is home to dozens of well-respected academic centers, many of which, such as Yale, UConn, and Wesleyan, are known world wide. Fanning out to include a a few nighboring states- 6 of US News and World Report’s top 10 national universities are within reach.
Another factor that lead to the growth of Silicon Valley in the 1970-80s was venture capital- a force that is alive and well in Connecticut. And in addition to investment from the private sector, the state is eagar to make investments in innovation to prove that the Connecticut River Valley is the Silicon Valley of the East.
Take a look at the CERC’s image of Connecticut compared to the San Francisco Bay area, and to overlay Silicon Valley over a different community for geographic comparison, click here to use the BBC Dimension’s How Big Really application.