The University of Southampton

From Silicon Valley comes to the UK to Silicon Valley (and back again!)

Published: 20 March 2012

International student Alejandro Saucedo had high expectations of his Computer Science course in ECS-Electronics and Computer Science when he arrived in Southampton last October … but they didn’t include visits to 10 Downing Street and to Silicon Valley, or a meeting with the Duke of York.

All of this has resulted from Alejandro’s participation in Silicon Valley Comes to the UK (SVc2UK), a national competition held last October at six of the UK’s leading universities. The appathon event involved students in using open government data to create innovative consumer applications in healthcare, education and the environment. Alejandro and his team-mates, ECS students Unmesh Gangadharan and Anthony Brown, won the Southampton event with their Emergency Button app, and were then invited to 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister David Cameron, other Cabinet Ministers, and leading entrepreneurs. Alejandro’s mother, who had waved him off from Mexico City only a few weeks before, flew to London to witness the events!

In February Alejandro joined other ECS and University students to meet the Duke of York at the Engineering and Technology Careers Fair, to talk about student entrepreneurialism and how this can be fostered in a university course.

But the highlight of SVc2UK took place earlier this month when Alejandro, representing the Emergency Button team, joined other winners for a trip to Silicon Valley, California, and was able to tour some of its leading companies, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google, and to meet the entrepreneurs who have made Silicon Valley the hub of the global tech world.

“The atmosphere was incredible!”, says Alejandro. “The culture is amazing; everyone is extremely happy and enthusiastic towards their professional and personal life! They are constantly interacting with brilliant people with the desire to create and contribute!”

Taking part in SVc2UK has been inspirational for him, he believes: “The real objective of this competition was to find enthusiastic, entrepreneurial students, and show them the amazing entrepreneurial culture in the Valley, with the objective of making them go back with the desire of building this entrepreneurial culture in the UK - and I believe they succeeded!!”

Despite having experienced the incredible atmosphere of Silicon Valley, Alejandro is not convinced that he will aim himself there in the future and is happy to be based in Europe for the next few years: “Having the opportunity here to deal with so many languages, so many cultures, so many countries, I feel it wouldn't be smart to limit myself to a single continent when I have the opportunity to experience so much here! The competition organizers said that the entrepreneurial culture in the UK and Europe is still quite young, but still eager to grow!”

The SVc2UK event was sponsored in Southampton by ECS-Electronics and Computer Science and Snowflake Software.

Read Alejandro's Blog and his account of what he learned in Silicon Valley.

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