Everywhere you turn today, whether it is online, in magazines and newspapers, or on the TV or radio, there are people, companies and organizations offering advice on how to fix what is by far the worst recession since the Great Depression and, specifically, how to place America back on top of the global innovation pedestal.
In our last post we made mention of Thomas Friedman’s New York Times piece that highlighted a recent effort by the Obama Administration to create eight innovation hubs across the U.S. with a mere $22 million in funding. We also called attention to the strides made by the Administration’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to bolster the country’s innovation economy through a focus on solutions that support moving innovations from the labs in which they are created into the commercial market where they can positively impact economic recovery and growth.
Additionally, there are several other promising steps in the right direction—a strategic advisory group at SCRA (South Carolina Research Authority) that includes representatives from the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the large industry, small business and venture capital communities. This groups’ aim is to help early-stage entrepreneurial companies commercialize new technologies. Also, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a group of pro-growth Members of Congress (68 members of the House of Representatives) who have a focused commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship.
All of these initiatives, ideas and organizations are encouraging to see. But, getting back to the first sentence of this post, there is no shortage of ideas and recommendations. The key will be clearly defining roles and responsibilities and, ultimately, execution. And doing that is not easy. Right now, the common denominator to a lot of today’s conversations about innovation, growth and entrepreneurship is the federal government and its perceived role as the major source of capital to reinvigorate our innovation ecosystem.
Rather than looking solely to government to help drive this forward— the fact is that government resources are severely limited or being scaled back in today’s tough economic environment— companies, educational institutions and individuals must view government, policy and related programs as a piece of the puzzle and not the be all, end all solution . That is not to say that there isn’t a role for government in this process, there most certainly is. But, rather than the sole financial source, the focus of government policy should be on the encouragement and utilization of private market capital and infrastructure. The private sector is more nimble and will move faster and more efficiently (and with better results) than government managed programs. With proper incentives, government policy can re-encourage the healthy flow of capital and talent necessary to resuscitate our innovation economy.
At the iBridge Network believe that times of economic uncertainty and upheaval can inspire extraordinary innovation. Those who view this current downturn as an opportunity can not only stimulate and revive the economy in the short term, but also unearth breakthroughs that are still being talked about decades from now.
However, without access to the right people, the most appropriate resources and the brightest thinking, ideas and innovations can languish in the laboratory or workshop…and the economy will continue to sputter along. The iBridge Network’s objective is to put ideas, access, transparency and outcomes at the forefront of today’s innovation agenda—working with both the private sector and government in their respective roles to accomplish this. Won’t you join us? Together we can help turn today’s ideas and research into tomorrow’s products and services.