Interview with Vincent Worms, founder of Tekton Ventures
Silicon Valley and its global influence
It's impossible not to know Silicon Valley in 2022! Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is the largest technology park in the world. It has 6,000 high-tech companies and benefits from the influence of Stanford and Berkeley universities.
Silicon Valley has become what it is today thanks to an environment that is conducive to innovation. Its strength lies in the existence of an environment that encourages the transformation of ideas into products and the creation of new companies, attracted by the aura of the Valley.
While Silicon Valley is ahead of other global technology hubs, other technology hubs are developing rapidly and may one day compete with the American Valley.
The ingredients of a Silicon Valley
With his investment fund Tekton Ventures, Vincent Worms invests all over the world. In Silicon Valley of course, but also in other technology parks in China, South Korea, India, Europe, Israel...
According to him, several ingredients are essential for the emergence of a Silicon Valley equivalent:
"It's a matter of concentration. You have to put human capital, financial resources, academic resources, business services, venture capital... Having a large number of players working together is essential, and it's not so easy to do! If you reach a critical threshold, it will produce a buoyant energy".
In addition to these flagship components, what helps these other technopoles is the existence of a strong partnership with Silicon Valley. For example, most Israeli start-ups have a CEO based in the United States, which facilitates their global development.
Finally, success breeds success. A major technopole attracts students from all over the world, new companies, investors... Success is concentrated at the top.
"Other technopoles are trying to replicate this concentration, but it is very difficult to reach the level of advancement of Silicon Valley, which covers multiple sectors. That said, progress is enormous, especially in Europe!" says Vincent Worms.
The world's major technology parks
Vincent Worms invests in all five continents, in different geographical areas, but for different reasons. Each area has its own assets. While Israel is known for DefenseTech, South Korea knows how to build marketplaces that will be quickly adopted by the entire population. An overview of the Silicon Valley in the world.
Shenzhen, the Chinese Silicon Valley
Shenzhen, a former fishing village, is now one of the world's leading smart cities. "Because of its size and technological capacity, China has created a community with great technology companies. Shenzhen is especially known in the industrial field", explains Vincent Worms.
Shenzhen's success is a reflection of the size of the Chinese economy and its domestic market. The market is an essential factor in creating technology parks. But it's not the only Silicon Valley-like city in China!
Zhongguancun is also one of the epicenters of Chinese tech. It is a district of Beijing that has managed to attract many Chinese companies and start-ups. It includes 2 universities: Beijing and Tsinghua. The government calls Zhongguancun "independent innovation", because of its ability to innovate and create high tech products, rather than just copying Silicon Valley companies.
The Silicon Wadi of Tel Aviv
In Tel Aviv, Vincent Worms highlights the quality of companies related to Defense Tech and cybersecurity. "It's a very concentrated sector and therefore very powerful" he says.
In just 10 years, no less than 4,000 startups have been created in Israel. That's one start-up for every 2,000 inhabitants: the highest density in the world! They are grouped together in what is called the "Silicon Wadi", which means valley in Hebrew. It extends over a large part of the Israeli territory.
The government supports this development by investing 5% of the country's GDP in R&D, and by creating about twenty business incubators to encourage entrepreneurship.
Europe, a fertile ground for start-ups
"In Europe, we are investing in several important technology parks, notably in England, Germany and France", says Vincent Worms. Each country has its own growth sectors. While it is still difficult for Europe to replicate the Silicon Valley model, there has been enormous progress in 15 years.
In Germany, Bavaria has propelled Munich to become the European technology epicenter. Thanks to strong investment in high-tech industry and education, Munich has become Europe's leading high-tech hub. More than 55,000 people work in R&D in Munich, making it the city with the highest number of technology patents per capita in Germany.
Around Cambridge, the prestigious English university, the Silicon Fen has formed. 1,500 high-tech companies have set up shop near Cambridge.
France has several technology parks, including Sophia Antipolis and Saclay. Although Vincent Worms is not familiar with Sophia Antipolis, which is Europe's leading technology park with 2,500 companies, he is banking heavily on the Saclay plateau.
"Saclay ticks all the boxes to become a Silicon Valley. It has the universities, notably the École Polytechnique, and a strong presence of technology companies", he explains.
Bangalore, the cluster of Indian start-ups
In the 1970s, Bangalore became the high-tech capital of India, in particular because of the installation of subsidiaries of American companies. Bangalore's energy then attracted Indian web leaders and later local start-ups.
The size of the Indian market is an undeniable advantage for the development of start-ups in Bangalore, which has a population of 12 million. It now has several unicorns.
"We invest with Tekton Ventures in Bangalore, there is a large concentration of technology companies. But the successes are still too recent for it to compete with the world's largest tech hubs", says Vincent Worms.
Where to invest: Tekton Ventures' methodology
Vincent Worms explains that he has a proven methodology, built on more than 40 years of investment experience worldwide.
"90% of projects are eliminated based on their credibility. We organize meetings with credible projects, where our criteria allow us to eliminate 80% of the list again. We base our choices on the market, the competition, the degree of capitalization and the background of the entrepreneurs. The last phase of selection is then more subjective", explains Vincent Worms.
According to him, the world's fastest growing sectors are the following:
- Environment and climate;
- Web 3.0;
- Biotech and Medtech.
Vincent Worms' background
After obtaining his master's degree from the École Polytechnique in 1974, Vincent Worms left France to study engineering at MIT. He quickly entered the world of finance at Partech International, where he remained a Managing Partner for 30 years. As venture capital had no equivalent in France at the time, he spent his entire career in the United States, with great energy and passion.
In 2011, he decided to leave the reins of Partech International to the next generation and to create his own seed fund: Tekton Ventures. It is a family foundation, not open to outside investors.
Since 2004, he has also been president of Kadist, his foundation dedicated to contemporary art in San Francisco and Paris. In the same way that Tekton Ventures plays a role in society by investing in promising start-ups, Kadist's objective is to make known the work of little-known artists from 5 continents, thanks to large and representative collections from around the world.