The Next Silicon
Valley Project (after the bust of the New Economy)
Opportunities in the «New Convergence»
Interview with Dr.
William Miller, Professor at the Graduate School of
Business at Stanford University and "father"
of the concept «Silicon Valley's habitat for innovation
After a first "White paper" about "Riding
the Waves of Innovation", providing a model to
shape a resilient region in the Silicon Valley and Bay
Area of San Francisco, in North California, the Next
Silicon Valley Leadership Group published, last June
(2002), a new paper, titled "Preparing for the
Next Silicon Valley: Opportunities and Choices".
The main message is: the coming wave is a new convergence
based in the three converging revolutions in biotechnology,
information technologies (IT) and nanotechnology. In
this new wave, innovation is likely to occur near the
intersection of disciplines related to the three areas.
We are assisting business opportunities in the emerging
fields of bioinformatics, biomaterials, biochips, biosensors,
nanorobotics,etc.. At the same time, nanotechnologies
are being recognised as a foundation for both advances
in biotech and IT. McKinsey estimates that the cumulative
market for this new convergence could top $1 trillion
in about a decade.
All the information at www.jointventure.org.
Dr. William Miller can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview by Jorge
Nascimento Rodrigues, editor of www.gurusonline.tv
The core asset of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area
of SF continues to be its "special habitat",
as you mentioned once? The regional advantage, and its
world uniqueness, as AnnaLee Saxenian once declared,
continues or there are signals of decline since the
bust of the New Economy?
The special Silicon Valley "Habitat" is still
in place. The economic slowdown, especially the slowdown
in IT, has greatly slowed down new business start-ups
and dampened the enthusiasm for entrepreneurship. However,
there is a great deal of technical innovation proceeding
that will provide the fuel new business formation. Venture
Capital investments in new start-ups has dropped to
the 1998 level, although start-ups with good business
plans and a good team of people are getting funded.
The next upswing will depend on an upsurge in the public
Due to the new globalisation path, this "habitat"
was not "cloned" since the 80's, quite succesfully,
in other places in the States and around some regions
in Europe and Asia?
Other regions that are developing "Habitats"
similar to that in Silicon Valley are Austin/Texas,
Boston/Mass., and the Hsinchu Science Park in Taiwan.
In Europe most of the regions that are developing entrepreneurial
cultures have not developed the specialised business
infrastructure to deal with start-ups.
In the new "vision" for the Valley and
the Bay Area, the magic word "Silicon" (coined
by reporter Don Hoeffler in 1971) will be replaced by
I think the name "Silicon Valley" will stick
in spite of the fact that we do not process much silicon
What's the main difference from the new Forth Wave
- the new simultaneous progression and convergence of
bio, IT and nano - and the last Toffler's Third Wave
that the Silicon Valley clearly lead from the 70's?
I think the third wave has not run its course. I view
the new convergence of bio, nano and info as just an
extension of the third wave which I describe as a knowledge
As we are now crossing the bottom of the economic
cycle - and also living a transition from one long Kondratief
wave born with the transistor in 1947 to another - do
you think this decade will be a great period of innovation?
I believe that the pace of innovation is increasing
not decreasing. The rate of patent grants has increased
substantially both in the US and abroad. How well we
will be able to convert these innovations into business
opportunities will depend on the public equity markets
becoming more vigorous.
«Nanotech should be viewed
as more like the transistor than like the world wide
web. The application opportunities are very large, leading
to many new devices and components».
Do you think the SV and Bay Area has conditions
to be again a resilient region and, as history showed,
to lead another period of innovation?
Yes, I believe the Bay Area will become vibrant again,
however it will likely be harder in the future. I expect
we will return a situation similar to the situation
in the 70's and the 80's.
What will mean in "practical" terms the
greater "volatility" of this new Wave?
It will require greater agility on the part of managers,
companies, and venture capitalists.
Nanotech should be viewed as an "enabling technology",
as a new platform like the web in the 90's or the integrated
circuit in the 60's?
Nanotech should be viewed as more like the transistor
than like the world wide web. The application opportunities
are very large, leading to many new devices and components
One of the characteristics showed recently by AnnaLee
Saxenian is a new kind of "brain circulation"
between the SV and the mother countries of high skilled
immigrants. How this new kind of transnational networks
can benefit the renewal of the Valley and the Bay Area?
How this two-way "flux" can be a win-win situation?
The global networks are increasing in importance because
the best innovations do not all occur in one place.
In order to have competitive products in a global marketplace
it is necessary to have the best technologies, best
talents, and the best services wherever they are. This
means that any region can participate in the global
networks if they have the key talent.
© Gurusonline.tv 2002