In his latest article for the Washington Post, Vivek Wadhwa, a leading thinker in innovation and education, explores the success of Chile’s grand innovation experiment and argues that Chile has taught the world a lesson about innovation.
In 2010 an ambitious programme called “Start-Up Chile” began; Vivek helped design the project, and he continues to serve on its advisory board. The idea was to pay foreign entrepreneurs to come and visit for six months, and in return all Chile asked was that the foreigners interact with local entrepreneurs and consider making the country their permanent home. The experiment was such a runaway success that, in an Oct. 2012 story, The Economist dubbed it “Chilecon Valley.”
Vivek argues that the success is important because regions all over the world spend huge amounts of money on innovation clusters—at the cost of other efforts. Top-down innovation clusters have a 100% failure rate, yet politicians keep touting them, because they provide great PR, as well as opportunities for patronage and corruption. Instead, Vivek believes that “to foster economic growth and innovation, the focus needs to be on people. They need to be empowered, enabled, and connected.”
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