How can the "ecosystem of innovation" that has come to characterize Silicon Valley be replicated in China?
That was a central question posed by Tom Nagorski, executive vice president of the Asia Society, during a panel discussion at a recent two-day conference on China and Silicon Valley, held in the ballroom of the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park.
The conference, titled "Innovation 2015: From China to Silicon Valley," was hosted by the Asia Society and Tianjin Binhai Hi-Tech Industrial Development Area of China.
Responding to the question, Kim Walesh, chief strategist of the city of San Jose, said the "secret sauce" to Silicon Valley's success is its openness to people and ideas around the world.
Orville Schell, a director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations for the Asia Society, said an important factor in the "equation of innovation" for Silicon Valley is that there's "nobody controlling it."
Jonathan Woetzel, director of the McKinsey Global Institute, pointed to a report created by his institute that suggests China could make its "innovation clusters" more attractive by inviting talented people to live and work there, increasing the funding and capital entrepreneurs would have to work with, and empowering workers to suggest ideas. "We need so much more innovation in the global economy, it's not funny," he said.
Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council, said that despite Silicon Valley's strengths, China may have some distinct advantages over Silicon Valley, such as high-speed mass transit. "We should be investing in a new common infrastructure in this country," he said.