Notes from Innovation Policyworks


Everywhere you turn these days, some magazine, newspaper, or think tank is publishing the "Top 10" list of something. In the economic development community, these lists are both a source of bragging rights (if your state or community comes out on top) or an opportunity to try to explain away the results. Our politicians also seize on these rankings to make headlines or make points, often without really finding out what's behind the headlines.


A case is in point is the recent Forbes ranking on Best State for Business. Here in Maine, we came in dead last, again. This isn't a one-time deal, it has happened quite a few years in a row. Predictably, the Governor, who loved to quote Forbes during his campaign three years ago, now says that they don't understand what's happening in Maine.


From my point of view, these rankings are not worth the paper they are printed on, or the electrons that bring them to us over the web. MORE



New! Innovation Blueprints!
How would you like to input just a few key words, and get back a list of patents available for free, some available for little or no money, as well as potential partners and collaborators! These are the results of a search on Innovation Blueprints, a new service available from the Innovation Engineering team. Call me if you want to learn more, or if I can perform a search for you.

The Book of Jobs (Work, not Steve)


If you haven't already seen it, Joseph Stiglitz wrote a great piece in Vanity Fair back in 2012, that I recently came across again. The author argues that the US is now facing a shift in the economy similar to the one that caused the Great Depression. Then it was the shift from agriculture to industry; now it's a shift from industry to service. His quote: "It's a problem rooting in the kinds of jobs we have, the kind we need, and the kind we're losing, and rooted as well in the kind of workers we want and the kind we don't know what to do with." Read this provocative article HERE.

Boston and Baltimore - Comparing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems


Entrepreneurial ecosystems consist of seven types of actors, according to this report by the Abell Foundation. The seven are: active and potential entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, universities, large companies, support platforms and cheerleaders. The report concluded that Boston's ecosystem is Established, while Baltimore's is Emerging and requires additional investment and organization. Proposed investments including finding more entrepreneurs, expanding early stage investment, creating a Innovation District, regulatory and tax reforms, public transit and a "dramatic, comprehensive investment." Judge the value of this report by reading it HERE. 

Regional Differences in Income Inequality


New Geography's Richard Morrill recently wrote that there has been a well-documented and persistent increase in income inequality in the US. This is the existence of very poor or rich households in the same state or area. Interestingly, the northern part of the country (except New York and Connecticut) has much lower income inequality. This is attributed to less severe racial and ethnic divides, but also the effects of unionization and welfare policies. The more egalitarian states are in Northern New England (ME, VT and NH), as well as Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Utah, as well as Alaska and Hawaii. See maps HERE.

NGA Instructs Governors on Postsecondary Education Outcomes


States are increasingly asking their colleges and universities to do more to meet the demand for a better educated workforce. At the same time, state funding for postsecondary education is shrinking. And, so, more and more questions are being asked about the efficiency and effectiveness of higher education.

The challenge is that the statistics gathered by colleges and universities has more to do with inputs than outcomes. They can tell you how many enrolled, and how much their budget is, but rarely produce consistent completion or employment statistics. This National Governor's Association report provides suggestions on how to improve accountability systems to better answer these questions. MORE HERE
In This Issue - October 2013
The Book of Jobs
Boston and Baltimore
Income Inequality
IELI in Maine Sept 24-26
Win Gov't Money

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To Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) who has won a $12.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to work on regenerative medicine research. The lab has focused on tissue regeneration in lower vertebrate animals and invertebrates including the zebrafish.


To the Maine Venture Fund, the new name of the Small Enterprise Growth Fund, the state sponsored venture fund.


To Northern Maine Development Commission (NMDC) for a new $200,000 grant to help the Biomass Clean Tech Manufacturing Cluster Strategic Plan to advance the design and manufacture of biomass heating devices in northern Maine.

Quote of the Month 


"The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization's ability to learn faster than the competition. " 


Peter Senge, MIT, author of "The Learning Organization"

Rules to Help You Win Government Funding


My friend and colleague, Rebecca Bagley, who runs Nortech, a cluster development organization in Northeast Ohio, has written a great article for Forbes that lays out these ten rules. The first rule: Focus on what you are good at. MORE HERE

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96 Maine Street, Suite 183 Brunswick, ME 04011 207.522.9028

Innovation Policyworks, LLC, is an innovation strategy firm focused on innovation policy and practice. Dr. Catherine S. Renault has been delivering innovation-based economic development results in rural states for over 22 years, most recently as science advisor and Director of the Office of Innovation for the State of Maine.  She is a Certified Innovation Engineering Black Belt.

Cathy has been spending time recently with a clean technology start-up, helping them to refocus and re-organize. For the time being, she is now Chair of their Board!  For a list of projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.