Thu, Feb 23, 2012 - Page 9 News List

Chips off the old block

By Rupert Neate  /  The Guardian

Silicon Alley, Silicon Saxony, Silicon Roundabout ... Russia is not alone in its plans to emulate California as a global technology hub.

Thanks to its proximity to Wall Street’s cash, Manhattan’s Silicon Alley was close to overtaking Silicon Valley before the dotcom bubble burst in 2000. Now Manhattan is thriving again with startups, including gossip site Gawker in SoHo, and eBay and Facebook are moving in.

The auction site expects to expand its New York office to more than 200 people and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said she was looking to “hire as much talent” as she could in the Big Apple.

Tech is also the talk of various cities in Germany. Berlin, which is said to host about 400 startups and regularly holds events designed to propel them into being fully grown companies, is billing itself, rather unimaginatively, as “Silicon Berlin.”

Munich, which hasn’t yet come up with a name to describe its tech-friendliness, claims more than 55,000 people work in research and development within a few kilometers of the city center.

Max Nathan, a research fellow at research center LSE Cities in London, believes there are many parallels between Munich and California’s bay area.

“Both have shifted from being mainly rural communities to high-tech hubs. Both offer a strong economy and an excellent quality of life — something that’s helped keep people in the area,” he said.

Dresden has copied Berlin and Munich, but given itself the rather catchier name of Silicon Saxony. Almost 300 companies, many involved in solar power, have signed up to the region’s industry agreement.

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