Learning from Silicon Valley


Learning from Silicon Valley 2014

Silicon Valley is known for its ground-breaking entrepreneurs and investors setting-up new companies which subsequently become global players and develop new industries. In less than forty years, a vibrant regional cluster in between San Francisco and San Jose (North California) has emerged in which start-up entrepreneurs, investors, larger firms, universities and other supportive institutions thrive and are considered the examples for much of the rest of the world. We want to consider some important questions on this phenomenon in this course:

  • do we have really good reasons to assume that entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley do better than their counterparts elsewhere?
  • have start-up companies in Silicon Valley achieved things that could (probably) not have been achieved elsewhere?
  • if so (in general or in particular contexts), what are the most important drivers of these successes?
  • is it the entrepreneurs, is it the context, is it the interactions between entrepreneurs and institutions or is it simply the moderate ocean climate?
  • what may entrepreneurs (you perhaps one day sooner or later?) in other areas of the world learn from this?
  • if an entrepreneur encounters the opportunity of a lifetime, should she go to Silicon Valley to exploit it (like Mark Zuckerberg did), or is he better off elsewhere?

These questions and some will be what the course is about. Nobody (as far as we know) has THE answers to these questions. Which means you will have to find out for yourself together with your fellow students on the course. Obviously, crucial part of such a mission is a fact-finding trip to see for yourself the companies and people who make it happen and can tell you about the experience first-hand. In addition, you will work on a number of assignments which will further develop your insights in what it means to be an entrepreneur and how as an entrepreneur you might try to optimize your chances.

Top students with different backgrounds

An additional challenge is that this course will be populated by a mix of students from Erasmus, TU Delft and Leiden University. So you will have to work together in a team with people who might have quite a different view of the world, which we expect (actually, we know) you will learn a lot from, next to achieving a considerable expansion of your network.
Unfortunate perhaps, but this course is not suited for everyone. In fact, only about 10 students from Leiden University can join. You need to be a master student with some experience, either by having followed courses on business and entrepreneurship or by having appropriate experience as an entrepreneur (having both is even better of course) to be qualified for participating.

More than just a course

The course will start on May 12, 2014. However, we want to have the student group together at least three months before, say around February 1, to make sure we all get properly prepared for the trip and to have ample time to try and raise as much money as possible to cover the costs. So to give us ample opportunity to make a good selection, the application deadline is Sunday January 17.

Interviews with selected candidates will take place end of January.

Why the link with Leiden?

Silicon Valley is the vibrant region in California between San Francisco and San Jose where entrepreneurs, investors, start-ups, universities and large firms work effectively together. The success of this hightechnology district, with its flagship firms like Google, Genentech and HP and prevailing entrepreneurial spirit, is unprecedented.

Science Hubs such as the Leiden Bio Science Park shows similarities to the Silicon Valley region, and some differences. In a means to compare both regions and learn about the best of both worlds.
To get a good understanding of our home situation, business minded Science students from RSM Erasmus University, TU Delft and Leiden University will fulfill a case study for companies – start-ups or established firms – situated on Science Hubs such as the Leiden Bio Science Park. The aim is to analyze from their perspective how such a company compares to similar companies in Silicon Valley and what we can learn from each other.

As an introduction, students will gain more knowledge in a course on entrepreneurship focused on Silicon Valley, with a close linkage to Science & Business from the Leiden Bio Science Park. Following, these aspects will be combined in a trip to Silicon Valley where learnings will be tested against as is practice. The learnings will be brought home and shared in a final report.

Application deadline:

If you want to join the Silicon Valley experience, hand in your motivation by Sunday 19 January 2014, 22.00h. You can submit your motivation letter with CV as attachment in an e-mail to siliconvalley@sciencemeetsbusiness.nl.

The course:

The prelimenary program is as follows:
Kickoff: February 2014
Start of the course: May 2014
Courseload: 5 ECTS
LocationStichthage Offices, Leiden University – Campus The Hague (Den Haag Centraal Station)
Contact hours: evenings to be determined
Trip to SV: 24 May – 1 June 2014 OR 31 May – 8 Jun 2014

More information?

There will also be an open information meeting in which the Silicon Valley experience is further explained before the application deadline. This may be January 9 at 16h00 in the LUMC room J1 117, together with the meeting for Research Based Business Ventures.
Here you you can ask questions to the organisation, or, share your ideas with us on the Silicon Valley experience!