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#LeWeb : Google’s Schmidt urges European cities to compete with Silicon Valley

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Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt argued at the Le Web conference on Wednesday that Silicon Valley needs to have more competitors on the world stage.

Schmidt said he considered a number of European cities to be eligible rivals for the California tech hub. Schmidt named Paris specifically, although this may well have have been because Le Web is taking place in the French capital.

"Today's entrepreneurs tend to break out young, they are risk taking, they are less family oriented, and these kinds of people prefer cities," said Schmidt.

"Also the diversity that cities offer tends to produce stronger organisations."

Schmidt said the role of governments in creating the next Silicon Valley should be to ensure all citizens have access to fixed and wireless broadband. "Then the government should let the citizens do everything else," he said.

Schmidt also told entrepreneurs attending the event that he thinks his country's authorities are "idiots" for having such strict visa regulations that deprives the US of innovative ideas.

"You can't move to the US because we are idiots and we won't give you a visa," said Schmidt.

Facebook's European managing director, Joanna Shields, agreed with Schmidt that the 'next Silicon Valley' will be in a city.

"City clusters are really where innovation is starting to happen. Europe, Paris, London, Berlin are really going to give Silicon Valley a run for its money," she said.

All of which is great news for London's Tech City, which David Cameron and the coalition government have really being pushing as a centre for technology entrepreneurs.

With investment from Google, Yammer, Huddle and a host of other technology firms, the area has already tripled in size to feature over 600 companies now in just its first full year.

However, there have been concerns from some that the area is running low on office space, with Old Street and Shoreditch particularly swamped, while areas to the north and east, towards Stratford and the Olympic Park, remain relatively untouched.

08 Dec 2011

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