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Notes from Innovation Policyworks

 

 

Here's my question. MassChallenge, the renowned accelerator for start-ups in Boston recently announced its 2012 class of entrepreneurs - 125 companies selected from an applicant pool of 1237 from 35 counties and 36 state. Now, I know that they have a $1 million prize, so that obviously brings out a lot of folks, but 90 of the finalists are from Massachusetts. That means that our neighbor to the south has produced 90 really decent start-ups this year, out of a population of 6.5 million. I figured out that if Maine created start-ups at this same rate, we would have 18 great start-ups this year. But we don't. Not of this caliber. In fact, we're lucky to get one Maine company a year that can operate in this environment - we've had two Maine companies be selected for MassChallenge in the four years of its existence. Anyone have any ideas why not? Or, more importantly, what can/should we do about it? Respond on my blog, http://www.innovationpolicyworks.com/blog.

   

Cathy

Are You Really an Entrepreneur?

 

Don't you hate all the blogs, columns and articles designed to help you decide if you are an entrepreneur? Seems to me it's like pornography - remember the famous quip by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart - "I know it when I see it?" The latest quiz is from a New York City start-up, Languatica, whose definition includes:

  • You don't take reality for granted.
  • You're kind of a nutter.
  • You don't want to work for anybody else.
  • You embrace risk.
  • You run on figures, but fervently believe in your project over all else.
  • And, one more for lick, optimism.
Check out Christopher Warren-Gash's blog on Forbes.com to read more. 

 

Entrepreneurship for the 99 Percent 

 

Here's another interesting blog on entrepreneurship by Jerry Engel and Steve Blank, two UC Berkeley faculty members best known for Lean LaunchPad and The Startup Owner's Manual. They start by musing that they are busy getting ready to teach entrepreneurship faculty from around the country about startups, and realize (!) that they are really only addressing venture-backed technology companies - less than 1 percent of the small businesses in America. They start to worry about the other 99 percent!

 

We have written in this space before about the difference between small business and entrepreneurs, especially scalable entrepreneurs. While Blank and Engel are worrying about how to make small businesses fail less, we think they are asking the wrong question.

 

The question should be: if resources are scarce (as they are everywhere), what's the best place to intervene with training, coaching, mentoring and other assistance for the startup community? The obvious answer is scalable businesses - those that are now small, but likely will not stay small. This is different from saying that we should back only venture-funded businesses, since that is a tiny percentage of the whole, and unlikely to make a difference in places other than Silicon Valley, Boston, and maybe Research Triangle. The second place to invest resources is in existing small businesses, especially manufacturers that bring outside money into local economies, and help them be more innovative and competitive.

 

You can read the whole blog at  http://www.steveblank.com.

 
In This Issue
Are You Really an Entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship for the 99 Percent
Congrats
R&D Bond Vetoed
Broadband in Maine
Maine GDP Falls in 2011

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Congrats

 

To FetchDog and its founders who recently sold the company to catalog company Potpourri Group. In addition, the company's former affiliate, Vets First Choice, recently received $4 million in funding led by Polaris Venture Partners and including Borealis Ventures, Harbor Light Capital, David Shaw and Black Point Group. 

 

Gov. LePage Vetoes R&D Bond 

 

Governor LePage vetoed a late session proposal for a $20 million R&D Bond that would have provided new funds for the award-winning Maine Technology Asset Fund (MTAF). This funding, awarded through a rigorous competitive process to the projects with the best science, the most relevance to Maine's economy, and the greatest chance of commercialization, has supported capital projects such as the construction of new laboratories at the University of Maine, University of New England, Bigelow Labs and the Jackson Labs, just to name a few.

What's Next for Broadband in Maine?

 

The ConnectME Authority recently released its strategic plan for broadband in Maine. Based on a detailed inventory and survey of broadband availability in the state, ConnectME concludes that 91 percent of Maine now has high-speed broadband access, compared to 86 percent four years ago. However, only 73 percent of Maine households and 86 percent of Maine businesses subscribe. ConnectME notes that the primary barrier to broadband adoption is lack of perceived need or value, with cost a secondary consideration. The entire report is available at:  

http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=ConnectMaine_News&id=392048&v=Article.
Maine GDP Falls in 2011

 

Maine's gross domestic product fell 0.4% in 2011, making it the only state in New England to see a drop compared with 2010. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP grew in the Northeast and across the country. Across the country, durable goods manufacturing drove GDP growth, as did professional, scientific and technical services.

 

 

We're Here from the Government to Help...

 

Meet Maine's newest Small Business Advocate. Jay Martin serves as an independent voice for Maine small business owners with the state's regulatory system. Located in the Secretary of State's office, Jay's job is to advocate for small businesses who have specific grievances with one or more agency enforcement actions. You can reach Jay or learn more at: http://www.maine.gov/sos/sba.

 
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I
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. Dr. Catherine S. Renault has been delivering innovation-based economic development results in rural states for over 20 years. She has been a technology-based economic development practitioner in two states and consulted with many more, most recently as science advisor and Director of the Office of Innovation for the State of Maine.   For a list of projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.  For a few months, Dr. Renault is helping the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development  (MCED) with the Top Gun program and other operational matters while the search for a full-time Operations Manager continues.