Notes from Innovation Policyworks


Lies, damn lies and statistics. According to Wikipedia, folks variously attribute this saying to Mark Twain and Disraeli. Regardless of the author, it's prime season for this dubious use of numbers to confuse and confound. You can't watch more than 15 minutes of TV right now without seeing some use of statistics to "prove" one point of view or another. As a self-described data geek, I find myself yelling at the TV screen, "That's inaccurate!" Well, actually, I say something else, but let's leave that to your imagination. Here's hoping that the good people of Maine and elsewhere will do a little research on their own before making up their minds in November. MORE HERE.



Where the Entrepreneurs Are


The Kauffman Foundation has recently published a study of the Inc. 500 firms for the past thirty years. While the companies in the Inc. 500 are self-selected (you have to apply to be on the list), it's a decent snapshot of entrepreneurial activity in the US. Despite what you might expect, this study found that innovation and growth of firms comes from a wide range of industries, not just "science and technology." Only 19.4 percent were IT firms and another 6.5 percent were in Health and Drugs.

Another great finding is that there are innovative, high-growth companies outside of the places you might expect. The authors were surprised to find Salt Lake City (second), Indianapolis (sixth), Buffalo (eleventh), Baltimore (fifteenth) as well as Nashville, Philadelphia and Louisville in the top twenty locations for Inc. 500 firms.  


Here's my favorite tidbit. The study found no correlation between "the presence of venture capital investment, high quality research universities, federal R&D funding (such as SBIR), and patents" with the location of high-growth firms. Instead, they found that "the presence of a highly skilled labor force is important for concentration of Inc. firms."


Read the whole study HERE.

Redesigning State Economic Development Agencies


In the last three years, there has been substantial re-arranging of the deck chairs at state economic development agencies across the country. These changes are documented in a new study from the National Governors' Association. Dissatisfaction with the myriad of economic development organizations at the state, regional and local levels, lack of accountability and perceived overlaps among programs has pushed many states to change from state agency models to public-private partnerships. NGA says that there are three "foundational strategies" at work. They are:

  • Engage and sustain private sector involve­ment.
  • Create mechanisms to encourage collabo­ration.
  • Institute a quantitative evaluation system. (Maine was lauded for its ten-year history with evaluation of its technology-based economic development initiatives.)
The whole report is HERE


Leadership Matters to Innovation


We often talk about how important it is for innovative companies to have innovative leadership. Harvard Business School researchers Clayton Christensen, Jeff Dyer and Hal Gregerson found five "discovery skills" that distinguished innovators from non-innovators.  They say, "Innovators ask provocative questions that challenge the status quo.  They observe the world like anthropologists to detect new ways of doing things.  They network with people who don't look or think like them to gain radically different perspectives.  They experiment relentlessly to test new ideas and try out new experiences.  Finally, these behaviors trigger new associations which let them to connect the unconnected, thereby producing disruptive ideas."


They went on to study companies that are very innovative, and found that the leader's innovation skills were extremely important. They found that "CEOs of high-innovation-premium companies scored at the 88th percentile of the five skills of disruptive innovators.  By comparison, CEOs of average companies scored at only the 62nd percentile. From a different angle, innovative leaders spent approximately 31 percent of their time actively engaged in innovation-centered activities compared to only 15 percent by leaders of less innovative companies.  Doubling the time a senior leader personally invests in getting new ideas typically delivers significant returns."


The whole article is in Forbes. There is also more information on this HBR site. 


In This Issue
Where the Entrepreneurs Are
Deck Chairs
Leadership Matters
SBIR Horrors

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To Tilson Technology who won a $2 million contract from AT&T to broaden its 4G high-speed network in New England and New York. And, Tilson is a big reason why Maine Fiber Company recently announced the early completion of the Three Ring Binder project to bring high-speed broadband throughout Maine.


To Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, the UMaine Target Technology Center and the Foster Center for Student Entrepreneurship on their launch of Top Gun Prep, an on-line opportunity for entrepreneurs from all over Maine to learn more about growing a scalable business.


Bob Martin, newly installed President of the Maine Technology Institute. Welcome aboard, Bob.To Bob Martin, newly installed President of the Maine Technology Institute. Welcome aboard, Bob.

Quote of the Month 


"You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts." 


Daniel Patrick Moynihan


SBIR Horrors 


The latest from Washington is that the SBA's implementation of the new SBIR law is complicated and full of pitfalls for small businesses. Included in the law were increased oversight against waste, fraud and abuse. This is leading to much more paperwork and complexity for small businesses. 


If you are in the SBIR community, this is an important issue, and we recommend that you follow Rick Shindell, a long-time advocate for the SBIR, who is our eyes and ears in DC. His blog, the SBIR Insider, is HERE.


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96 Maine Street, Suite 183 ˇ Brunswick, ME 04011 ˇ 207.522.9028
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.  
Cathy's most recent projects include working with the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and three federal statistical agencies to improve how the agencies disseminate data to users. She is also starting on a updated study of the Clean Technology Sector in Maine in collaboration with E2Tech and UMaine, a project funded by the Maine Technology Institute. For a list of projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.