One way or another, I've addressed the question of "Where is the Silicon Valley of Europe" a hundred times, be it in interviews, in blog posts, on Twitter, or on panels. Ultimately, there isn't really a "Valley" in Europe, only some places kind of like it. If you want my ideas on that, I have other posts on the topic.
Yet, if you are an entrepreneur in Europe, don't forget that the Valley exists. Measure yourself by "Valley standards," not just by your peers in Europe. It irks me a bit when I speak with start-ups that compare themselves only to local competition. So often I will hear a pitch and ask what the company's competition is in the US. Often enough, the answer (unfortunately, never directly) is, "We haven't taken the time to figure that out yet."
If you share this approach, you'd have to be nuts. There is likely an entrepreneur in California who would have, if need be, swam to the US and worked four jobs for the money to launch their venture, without giving a second thought to "quality of life" or "spending time with the kids." Think what you like about that entrepreneur's priorities in life, but don't doubt that they'll enjoy crushing you if you're competing against them.
The Valley may be sunny and inviting, but everyone is there to win. Those who aren't tend to pack up quickly. Those who stay and continue to start up or finance new businesses have the loftiest of goals. They're probably not all about the money. Sure, they enjoy the perks of an exit, but my experience is that a lot of people in the Valley are out to change the world, or at least try. You hear it in their pitch and you see it in their eyes.
Ask me what I see lacking most in startups in Europe and I'll say hunger, drive, and lofty goals. The few that have it you recognize immediately. They usually end up succeeding quickly, and you chase them to invest in their companies. Those who don't have it probably never will succeed. It's not about being "American," which is another argument that is often made. The Valley is made up of people from every corner of the earth. Each and every startup I have visited there was a pot pourri of backgrounds, often European.
So, do we need a "Valley" per se in Europe? No, who cares. It's only a term. Do we need entrepreneurs who are hungry, who are passionate, and who aim high? Yes, and to remain competitive and know where to aim, we have to know what our true competition is.
Read Paul Jozefak's last post on ReadWriteStart: What Should You Ask VCs?