The Silk Road was a network of trade routes which linked several regions of the world. Some causes of this to be built were about trade. People wanted faster and quicker ways to trade and commerce. Because of the Ottoman Empire, trade routes on the west and trade in general was boycotted, and because of the new inventions to help with exploration, they created a route that connected all of the major areas in the ancient world together, making it easier and faster to trade. Because of this new route, China, India, Asia, Egypt, Britain and many others were linked, and allowed Culture, Art, Religion, Philosophy, Language, etc was spread throughout these areas. As well as that, more and more items and materials were able to be spread because of this route, allowing more money and a variety of different items being traded.
Prince Henry of Portugal, otherwise known as Henry the Navigator, created a school for navigation and sailing. This school was created because Henry wanted to share his talents and knowledge of sailing and navigating, so he built a learning center so he can teach young sailors and explorers more about those particular skill set. After the decimation of the Silk Road, people needed a new way to travel and trade, and this school taught them all they needed to know. This school was a breakthrough for his country of Portugal, and a breakthrough in the age of exploration. This school led to the invention of many new sailing ideas, included the Caravel, which was a massive ship that could hold more cargo, travel far distances, and overall improved sailing. This ship was able to tack, which was a new invention that allowed sailors to travel in the wind, instead of facing their back to the wind to sail. As well as this, sailors learned more about navigating and sailing, and lead to more exploration and new routes of travel.
Another important item from exploration is the Spice Trade. Spices like cloves, nutmeg, and more were used to improve meals, as well as used for medical reasons and even perfume. Because of the realization of the value of spice, it began to be sold to the public and other areas around the globe. The supply and demand of this product enabled the South Pacific and East Indies to improve economy and establish relationships with Europe. Eventually, Europe gained importance because they became the main seller of spice, and helped other countries improve meals and helped economy grow. The spice trade created one of the earliest monopolies between Europe and muslim traders.
Sources - http://mrnussbaum.com/explorers/princehenry/ www.ancient.eu/Silk_Road/ - Mr. Meninga's Notes