Build a magnificent technology park next to a research university; provide incentives for chosen businesses to locate there; add some venture capital. That is the common recipe for harnessing higher education and industry to spur economic growth as prescribed by management consultants touting the “cluster theory” developed by Harvard Business School’s Michael E. Porter. Hundreds of regions all over the world have spent billions on such efforts; practically all have failed.
There are important lessons here for countries such as China, Japan, Malaysia, and Russia, and for regions in the United States and Europe that have been trying for decades to replicate Silicon Valley. To boost entrepreneurship, they need to focus their energy not on infrastructure, but on people. They have to be connected to each other and be given the means to innovate and take risks. The obstacles in their path need to be removed.