I will write a more formal response where I blog daily at PointsAndFigures.com, but I was happy to see someone like Robert Scoble make a trip to fly over country and come away with tangible evidence that there are things happening here.
The engineering school in Champaign turns out more CS engineers each year than MIT, CalTech, Berkeley and Stanford combined……50% of the professors there are in some sort of startup.
The business school in Champaign has recently embraced entrepreneurship and is working hand in hand with the engineering school, the ag school and others to evangelize what startups are all about.
I want to make a clear point-this isn’t about us vs them. It’s a larger pie. Having fly over country do the best it can do will help Silicon Valley be even better than it already is.
I truly admire a lot of things about the Valley. I admire the ethos, the ability to think way out of the box, and other things that are embedded in the DNA there. It’s a different place.
This also should not be a competition between Chicago and Champaign, or Champaign and Indy, or Champaign and St. Louis. They all will grow together. Chicago is the center of the universe for the Midwest and it will remain so for the near term. (It has some serious financial problems that local politicos are not bold enough to confront, and could kill the golden goose)
The talent is here. We lack the seed capital. We have very very few seed focused funds. You cannot imagine how hard it is to raise a seed fund in the Midwest.
Seed a lot of companies and one or two will become behemoths that get the whole thing going. See Hewlett, Fairchild and others in the Valley….