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December 15, 2007

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With all due respect, I think the NESTA report misses one important and necessary element to the innovation equation. That's TOLERANCE!

While Silicon Valley, often refered to as the "gold standard" of innovative regions, is endowed with many important assets that allowed innovation to spring forth, what made (and I hope continues to make) Silicon Valley a well-spring for innovation is its tolerant additudes.

This is not something that is legislated or orchestrated by "regional planning commissions". At least here in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area it's been a part of the area's fabric since the Gold Rush of the mid-19th Century.

Richard Florida of George Mason University in Virginia (http://creativeclass.com/) stumbled onto "tolerance" as a key differentiator in his research on regional urban and economic development. His two books on the "Creative Class" are well worth reading for any serious study of regional and innovation development.

I think there's little doubt that Europe will find its own formula for "innovation success", but if it's going to study existing models, it should understand all the important elements -- including the "secret sauce".

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