For many of the fellows, the captain announcing the initial descent into San Francisco/San Jose was enough to get our hearts racing. A few weeks back, we had the opportunity to meet our peer Fellows from all around the country, and visit innovative places such as Google, Stanford d. School, and in our spare time, the rest of what Silicon Valley has to offer.
We were all mesmerized by the resources, the opportunities and the networks that were established around the area. But near the end of my trip, I had the chance to head over to East Palo Alto, with poverty and homelessness in unbelievably high density. Even with the classic Silicon Valley iconic dot com boom, there are areas like East Palo Alto which were bypassed. On the flight back home, I had time to consider what this mean to me as a young innovator.
I came to the conclusion that although Silicon Valley is inspiring in and of itself, and many of my peer Fellows are excited to perhaps one day be a part of it, it is also of the utmost importance to empower our youthful innovators and University Innovation Fellows to create the next Silicon Valley, and deliver unprecedented growth in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) in their own hometowns. This begs the question: What made the tech boom possible in Silicon Valley, and what would it take to mirror the environment in a new burgeoning city?
Innovators, often unintentionally, bullishly attempt to characterize solutions without first understanding the problem. For clarity, think of the jigsaw puzzles you completed as a child. There is a reference picture on the box, providing a sense of an end vision and inspiration, but most importantly, providing a landscape to facilitate the process. Silicon Valley is that picture on the box; when shaping our respective I&E Ecosystem Landscape Canvases, it is common for us to think we are on our own, without any facilitation or guiding end vision. This could not be further from the truth.
The weekend in Silicon Valley with Fellows was a time for collaboration, design thinking and the discussion of a variety of different exciting platforms and initiatives for empowering our movement for growth. But let it be known that there is a reference picture on the figurative box of our movement. It is tech hubs like Silicon Valley, that give us a sense of an end vision – a vision for where the next innovation boom will occur, whether it be in clean energy, biotech or even liberal arts education on college campuses. But just as it is in East Palo Alto, the picture is blurred. There are areas that innovation seemed to bypass, and the people and economy suffer tremendously. It is the burden of us Fellows to begin putting together the puzzle, while also shedding light on the blurred area of the picture.
It is time for the next Silicon Valley to be born; for a new picture to emerge, and for the picture to be clearer than ever before. The next gold standard could be in Ohio, South Carolina, or Idaho. And it would be safe to bet that a University Innovation Fellow would be behind that project.
Consider this a call. A call for action. A call for the next Silicon Valley. A better Silicon Valley, and a better world for it.
-Peeyush Shrivastava, University Innovation Fellow ’15
Peeyush Shrivastava is a Biomedical Science major (Economics Minor) at The Ohio State University, and a passionate innovator and entrepreneur working on developing and commercializing a pipeline of diagnostic solutions. An avid researcher and enthusiast of science and youthful innovation, Peeyush hopes to bring a new era of student bioscience innovation with his role as a Fellow at Ohio State. See his full profile here.