- Tom Leighton teaches the SAT problem to MIT students during their 1st or 2nd year of studies (!)
- The notes which Leighton distributes to his students mention his affiliation both to MIT and to Akamai . In other words, the MIT students while studying one of the hardest topics of their curriculum, proudly learn that their Professor has been the Co-founder of Akamai.
- A “start-up migration wave”, where most of the high-potential start-ups in the EU have either moved to the US or plan to do so, and ,
- A terrible opportunity cost has occurred in terms of quality jobs which could have been created, but actually they haven’t.
During my IVLP/ANB13 program I had the privilege of visiting a number of leading American Universities, such as Georgetown, University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Denver, Southern Methodist University and Columbia University. At all of them, literally ALL, it was very obvious that the academic environment not only is entrepreneurship-friendly but it actually is designed to boost entrepreneurship and to promote the "culture of failure". Very few European Universities can really make a similar claim - If any.
Being in the fifth year of the financial crisis in Europe and having general unemployment in the South higher than 25%, as well as youth unemployment is some cases (Spain, Greece) higher than 50%, it is now the time to look at the ugly truth and do something about it. The ugly truth is that while the number of well educated young Europeans increases constantly, very many of them fail to find a quality job, while on the same time the industry complains for having difficulties to find the right talent to cover their needs. It’s rather safe to conclude that there’s a growing gap between market needs and education provided by our educational system, both in terms of formal knowledge, and, more importantly, in terms of culture.
It is quite interesting that, although NYC launched its start-up strategy only few years ago, now it is an almost equally developed ecosystem with the San Francisco Bay Area and rather more developed than Boston - Where there is a huge tradition of high tech universities. That is probably because the City of New York made a wise choice: They played on their strength!
Unfortunately, we Europeans do not play on our strength but seem to prefer the copycat way - that is to dream for many of our regions to become "the Silicon Valley of Europe". One can easily name 10+ European regions dreaming/aiming to become the Silicon Valley of Europe. On the other hand in NYC nobody ever dreamed of becoming "the Silicon Valley of the East Coast". What is the result of those two different choices? Today NYC competes with the Silicon Valley at -almost- equal terms while those European regions still remain miles behind. This situation could easily be described as the "Silicon Paranoia".
Many analysts in Europe have suggested a number of necessary measures for promoting high growth and innovative entrepreneurship aiming to the sustainable creation of quality jobs. They refer to increasing seed/risk financing, improving bankruptcy legislation, adding entrepreneurship courses in all of the educational levels and realizing the single European market for businesses. The analysts are right in their recommendations; however such measures will unfortunately fail unless a major cultural and political shift take place.