The story goes that, nowadays, things are so go-go in Silicon Valley that if two people get an idea over coffee and Pop Tarts in the morning, by noon they have a business plan, by 3 p.m. they've scored VC funding, and by nightfall they've done an IPO. Of course it's not that simple--but when talking to your girlfriend about Pez dispensers leads to founding eBay, with a market cap well over $10 billion, it's proof there is magic in Silicon Valley. Can any other region even attempt to replicate the Valley's prosperity?
For an unexpected answer in the affirmative, look overseas to Ireland, which in the past two decades has transformed itself from an impoverished, sleepy, agricultural backwater into the tech hot spot in Europe, home to dozens of U.S.-based firms (like Microsoft, 3Com and Intel) plus hundreds of Irish-bred start-ups.
The following keys to tech prosperity have worked in Ireland--and could work anywhere:
- Availability of brainy, tech-educated, young workers
- Money, either from venture capitalists, angels or the government
- Favorable costs of doing business
- Lots of tech businesses
- Willingness to take risks
As our list of the top 10 hot spots shows, it isn't all that hard to put it all together. (Did you know Microsoft got its start in Albuquerque, New Mexico--21st place on our list--not Seattle or Silicon Valley? Go figure.)