Aleix París, Robotics Software Engineer in Silicon Valley, specialized in autonomous vehicles. MIT graduate.
What can be learned from Silicon Valley about innovation?
Many of the innovations that we use in our day to day have been born in Silicon Valley. One of the keys to its success is the strong university-business collaboration. It is common for students to do paid internships in the summer or during a part-time academic year, called internships. At Stanford, a university located in the area, many students do their theses on business management, and there are numerous entrepreneurship programs.
At MIT (near Boston), the same thing happens: there I did my final degree project collaborating with the satellite company SES, my master's thesis with Ford, and an internship at Amazon. The legislative framework is more agile, allowing it not to be left behind too much with the rapid appearance and evolution of new technologies. It is a place where people are not afraid to take risks, both businessmen and workers: many companies are formed thanks to the low taxation and, unlike in other states of the USA, in California, the agreements of not competition. Labor mobility is high (workers are in the same company for an average of two years), and the unemployment rate is very low. There is ambition and little fear of failure.
How could it be transferred/applied to Barcelona?
Barcelona has a very good reputation as a city where you can live well. In addition, we are great producers of talent: we are a great group of Catalans in Silicon Valley (I also saw it in Boston!). But we still have a lot to do to prevent our talent from going abroad, as well as to attract international talent. Investing more in research and development would end up being cheaper for us. It is necessary to promote university-business collaboration, to make a paradigm shift.
When I lived in Barcelona and was studying two degrees, I looked for internships in the summer, but the companies told me that two or three months was too little to do anything useful. Maybe true, but that's how Silicon Valley recruits talent directly from universities, even before students graduate. It is, in a way, an investment in the future. It is difficult to compete with the low taxation of other European countries or to import legal frameworks that have worked abroad, but we could start with pilot programs, gradually extending their use. A lower aversion to risk and a willingness to invest in the long term in a sustained economy in the high added value industry and not in tourism cycles are necessary.