Anyone interested in understanding the early history of Silicon Valley should visit Steve Blank’s blog under Secret History. He has posted a recent you tube presentation summary and copy of the slides.
The story provides a compelling view of how military technology development and funding investment during the cold war built on existing industrial strengths in the area before the Venture Capital industry had fully formed. I don’t believe this early history story is understood when countries/regions look to replicate the success of silicon valley.
The story also illustrates the importance that early catalysts (key individuals, ready funding, labs, universities) can have to forming a thriving integrated innovation ecosystem. Very difficult to recreate these conditions today.
Toronto’s MaRS accelerator recently released a great summary of practical advice for Canadian start-ups seeking funding for their start-up and in particular looking at VCs from the US or abroad.
They contend that Canadian start-up company success is “closely correlated with their breaking outside of their regional boundaries and getting closer to their end markets” and provide some of the best data I have seen to understand US VC investment trends in Canada. The article also compares US and Canadian VCs and identified the top three developmental challenges of Canadian VCs that are hindering fast growth Canadian start-ups: follow-on funding; sector depth; and qualified talent pool.
The study also suggests that now is a good time to look for VC investments from the US. The article identifies US VCs that have been the most active investing in Canadian start-ups.