As a person who has run companies in Silicon Valley, Canada, and Europe, I can say with confidence that Silicon Valley leads the world by a large margin in terms of venture capital, entrepreneurship, and innovation. By a very, very wide margin.
But that's not the only reason to build a company in a particular environment. It's time cities stop trying to compete with Silicon Valley by emulating it, and start taking themselves seriously. Silicon Roundabout ? Please. It's almost embarrassing for London - a city that certainly knows business and empire-building inside out and has access to huge amounts of capital - to try to emulate Silicon Valley.
Almost every city has something to offer entrepreneurs, and it doesn't need to be simply VC or the next big thing. VCs are now much more comfortable looking abroad for opportunities, and the recent spate of non-Silicon Valery leaders has demonstrated that well-funded innovation can come from almost anywhere (hello Rovio).
So why are cities trying to play a game that is almost impossible to win? The truth is that many cities are changing the game. Think about how Austin or New York has chosen to play their cards in this game. Look how Canada has supported technology innovation, if not its cities. Maybe not through VC alone, but though other, equally meaningful incentives like access to human capital, favorable tax rates, alternative funding/reinvestment structures, and many other incentives that can make or break your business, whether VC-backed or not.
These things can weigh more heavily on your company than being in proximity to the greatest startup engine that ever was. It's time cities across the globe realized this and stopped chasing the leader. Just because the game has a winner doesn't mean the game can't be changed.
Check out the excellent post below for a slightly different perspective-
Will Silicon Valley ever share the wealth? »
Cities are doing a lot to build and promote their own startup communities. But Silicon Valley is still king, and it's growing even more powerful in startup investments. How do we fix this?
Michael is the former CEO of the Global Reporting Initiative, Carbonetworks, and other sustainability organizations. He has been an advisor and CEO in sustainability for almost 20 years, and writes about technology, sustainability, and social innovation.