Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Everyone else is making his or her pitch for what we should do to get out of this jobless non-recovery. You know I had to put in my two cents. Check out my blog for my ideas. Those of you who know me well will recognize these themes, perhaps from the last gubernatorial campaign in Maine!



Benchmarking the US on Innovation and Competitiveness


The US is not number one for innovation-based competitiveness in the latest update of a report comparing a diverse group of countries in the European Union, Asia and South America. The US is fourth in overall rank which is an index of 16 indicators like scientists and engineers, industrial and government R&D, venture capital, productivity and trade; but 43rd of 44 in our growth on this measure since 1999. One encouraging note - some states, like Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Delaware, Maryland, Colorado and New Hampshire, would all rank number one if they were their own countries. The full report, The Atlantic Century II, is available at  here



A Dozen Economic Facts About Innovation


The Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institute, has published a report outlining a dozen facts about innovation. They are:

  1. Innovation drives economic growth and raises wages.
  2. Innovation improves US Life expectancy.
  3. Innovation makes technology affordable.
  4. New organizational structures lead to rising standards of living.
  5. New household technologies allow more time for family and leisure.
  6. The pace of American innovation has slowed during the past four decades.
  7. Innovation has failed to increase wages for a substantial number of Americans due to a failure to increase educational attainment.
  8. Significant barriers to innovation exist in the government and the private sector.
  9. Federal support for research and development has declined in recent years.
  10. Relatively few US college students study fields critical to innovation.
  11. American women are less likely to continue in STEM fields than American men.
  12. US Policy makes it difficult for international students to stay and work. 

 If you want to read the data behind these facts, click here.  

 SBIR Still Screwed Up


The folks who are following the SBIR saga on Capital Hill are giving 6 to 5 odds that SBIR is going to expire and lapse starting October 1. It is currently operating under its 12th continuing resolution (!) and apparently there is no stomach for another one. Amazingly, a number of other SBA programs did indeed expire at the end of July, as has funding for the FAA, so why not SBIR?


The issue continues to be whether or not to consider companies that are majority owned by venture capitalists to be considered "Small Business" and therefore eligible for SBIR funds. Needless to say, many folks think this is a win for Wall Street and a loss for small business.


These items and more are contained in HR 1425, which needs to be substantially changed in order to be passed by the Senate. And House Small Business Committee chair Sam Graves and ranking member Nydia Velazquez continue to support Wall Street and want the bill as it. Therefore, the pessimism. More to come.


Congrats to the 11 Maine Companies on the Inc. 500/5000 List 



1040:  Putney, Portland

1098: Listen Up Espanol, Portland

1144: Tilson Technology Management, Portland

2205: Preval, Portland

2322: New England Medical Transcription, Woolwich

2692: Looks Gourmet Food, Whiting

4014: Nationwide Payment Solutions, Scarborough

4172: Pioneer Telephone, South Portland

4320: GWI, Biddeford

4355: Mailings Unlimited: Portland

4483: Isamax Snacks, Gardiner

September 2011 Issue
Benchmarking the US
A Dozen Facts About Innovation
SBIR Still Screwed Up
Maine Companies on Inc. 500/5000
Innovation Engineering
News from Innovation Policyworks

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Thermal Energy Storage of Maine recently announced it has raised $250,000 of new capital. The company's electrical thermal storage units save off-peak electricity as heat and release it as needed over time. The bricks range from single-room supplemental units to furnaces capable of replacing oil- and gas-fired systems, including commercial and industrial applications, and provide both space and water heating. FMI, http://www.mainecleanheat.com/.


The University of Maine's AEWC Advanced Structures and Composites Center has received a $3 million federal grant to buy equipment for its deep-water offshore wind research laboratory. The grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration will fund the purchase of equipment for structural testing and pilot manufacturing of wind turbine components. To track the progress of the offshore initiative, see http://www.aewc.umaine.edu/.


A UMaine spinoff, Environetix, will share in a $1.2 million grant with the University of Maine lab that originally developed the tiny, high temperature, wireless sensors. Designed for harsh environments, the sensors can be used in places like jet engines, power plants, and steel factories. More information about Environetix is available on its website: http://www.environetix.com


If you want to be mentioned in this space, send me your news!



Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute


Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Innovation Engineering Leadership Institute in Burlington, VT (before Irene came to visit). This three-day seminar was amazing when I first went last year, and is even tighter and better now. 


The next session is in Freeport, Maine, October 17-19, so you should seriously consider taking the opportunity to learn first hand how to increase the speed of innovation in your organization and decrease the risk. IE now includes tools to help your team think smarter and more creatively. For more information, see http://www.innovationengineering.info.




Kansas Pipeline Program Focuses on Mentorship


The Kansas Pipeline is a yearlong "immersion experience" for ten entrepreneurs a year. This was one model studied when Maine's Top Gun program was designed. The key elements of Pipeline are its selective nature, its intense curriculum and three levels of mentoring. Pipeline chooses entrepreneurs whose companies have shown a track record of success rather than startups that are in the proof-of-concept phase.


The mentorship program includes three layers: local successful entrepreneurs who are often also angel investors; a second layer of stakeholders in the Pipeline program and a third, national board of advisors and national (or international) mentors for each entrepreneur deeply connected with the company's industry or growth trajectory. 


News from Innovation Policyworks, LLC


Last month, I received a contract to work with my friend Ken Poole of the Council for Community and Economic Research on a paper for the Pew Foundation for the States. We will be writing about why states don't do more evaluation of their economic development programs. This is the first of what I hope will be more research projects, as I have just been appointed Assistant Research Professor at the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.


Innovation Policyworks, LLC, is an innovation strategy and evaluation firm focused on the development and measurement of effective state and regional technology-based policies and programs. This is different from any other offering because we explicitly link policy design and evaluation: recommended programs are appropriately focused on outcomes with a disciplined measurement process in place that allows policymakers and legislators to see what progress is being made and whether improvements need to be considered. 


96 Maine Street, Suite 183 Brunswick, ME 04011 207.522.9028