Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters
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Handbook of Research on Innovation and Clusters

Cases and Policies

Edited by Charlie Karlsson

The role of innovations and clusters has increasingly dominated local and regional development policies in recent decades. This authoritative and accessible Handbook considers important aspects of high-tech clusters, analyses insightful cluster case studies, and provides a number of recommendations for cluster policies.
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Chapter 24: Silicon Somewhere: Is There a Need for Cluster Policy?

Gert-Jan Hospers, Frédéric Sautet and Pierre Desrochers


Gert-Jan Hospers, Frédéric Sautet and Pierre Desrochers1 1 Introduction All over the globe, authorities in charge of cluster policy are trying to build their own ‘Silicon Somewhere’ in an attempt to emulate Silicon Valley, the world’s most famous example of geographical clustering of economic activity of the last three decades (Saxenian, 1994; O’Mara, 2004). For a long time this area of South San Francisco Bay around Santa Clara County and its main cities, San José and Palo Alto, was mostly known for its orchards. In 1891, however, Leland Stanford founded Stanford University, which, under the leadership of Frederick Terman (1900–1982), became one of the best engineering institutions in the United States. Stanford’s electrical engineering department in particular became a breeding place for innovative companies. One of these spin-offs was established by Stanford classmates Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, who developed numerous electronic devices. Why Silicon Valley has grown into a hot spot of clustering has been examined in many studies (Saxenian, 1994; Bouwman & Hulsink, 2000; O’Mara, 2004). The success of Silicon Valley can be largely explained by the right entrepreneurial decisions at the right place at the right moment. Stanford University, for example, benefited from Cold War federal defensive spending and the availability of venture capital. Besides this, more than elsewhere in the world, Silicon Valley is supposed to have a favourable climate for talent, entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation which has its roots in unique regional conventions such as openness to newcomers, enthusiasm for technological...

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