Exploring Bioscience Clusters

May 16, 2012 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

Click here for this strong article that was published last year in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Top-Down Tech Clusters Often Lack Key Ingredients: Russia’s planned ‘science city’ is a fresh example of centrally planned innovation, which historically falls short of its goals.

Some notable quotes:

Top-down clustering doesn’t tend to work nearly as well as when hubs of commerce and academia spring up from private efforts.

Academics, including Harvard Business School’s Michael Porter and many management consultants, have been prescribing central-clustering development plans for decades. The plans are based on the idea that governments or economic development bodies can create hubs of activity in specific industrial sectors by bringing businesses, suppliers, and researchers together in buildings or industrial parks. Build great infrastructure, offer financial incentives, and the magic will happen, the thinking goes.

University of Toronto Professor Richard Florida has been researching factors that provide Silicon Valley and other tech centers with advantages. His conclusion is the same as mine: It isn’t location or government investment that makes a vibrant tech center, it’s the presence of a diverse set of well-educated workers

Entrepreneurs, not buildings and real estate, are the key to innovation and economic growth. Yes, a region needs good infrastructure and a pool of educated talent to develop a technology hub. But governments can’t manufacture innovation by putting a set of fancy buildings next to a university, as Russia plans to do.

To build the next wave of successful clusters, governments should provide creative, risk-taking entrepreneurs with the means to start companies and build networks. They should provide seed financing and tax breaks for entrepreneurs, welcome skilled immigrants, and improve educational resources. That’s the formula for nurturing entrepreneurship.

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