Notes from Innovation Policyworks


When I started my firm, I never thought too much about what it would be like to be self-employed. Now, three years in, I know it's the best decision I ever made. People ask me all the time if I'm going to apply for this job or that job, and I always say, "I already have the best job in the world. I get to do work I love, for people that I like, with people I respect."


Now, I also like being on my own, but I'm thankful for the many communities that I'm a part of that form an extended family. There's the innovation community, both here in Maine and nationally. In Maine, there's the MCED community and all the folks that care about entrepreneurship here and there's the renewable energy and clean tech community. But mostly, there's the Innovation Engineering community.


The coolest thing about the IE community is that it is virtual. Many, many folks in this community care are laser-focused on innovation and its ability to change the trajectory of individual organizations and communities, and they are located all over the country and around the world. I have met some of them; others I only know through our Brain Brew Café blog. Yet, I know they are out there, ready to help when I have a question, or offer encouragement and new ideas when I am stuck.


But the most important thing about Innovation Engineering is that it is an opportunity to learn something new, to try something you have never tried, to go big. Here's a great story:


"Years ago, when Ken Stabler was a quarterback for the Raiders, a newspaperman said, "Ken, I want to read you something Jack London wrote: 'I would rather be ashes than dust. I would rather that my spark burn out in a brilliant blaze than be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me a magnificent glow, than a sleepy, crumbling planet. For the proper function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.'"And the reporter then asked Stabler: "What does that mean to you, Kenny?"Without hesitating, Stabler said: "Throw deep!"


Michael Wagman

Advertising Age January 30, 1986   

Innovation Engineering is about throwing deep, going for the end zone, but knowing that you have practice, athleticism, the know-how and know-what behind you to make it happen.


I hope that you will join me on the Innovation Engineering journey. It's a way to make our dreams of a stronger economy real, one organization at a time.



Innovation Engineering License!

After being in the Innovation Engineering community for well over five years, and earning my Black Belt eighteen months ago, I have taken the next step. I am proud to be a licensee of Innovation Engineering. That means that I can offer you the full Innovation Engineering package directly.


Innovation Engineering is a system that transforms innovation from a random event to a reliable, replicable, faster process to create, communicate and commercialize new products, services, processes, business models and marketing strategies. IE is applicable to for-profit companies, as well as not-for-profits - anyone who wants to offer their clients/customers/stakeholders more value.


I have developed a method for using IE processes and tools for the strategic planning efforts that most non-profits and economic development organizations undertake - guaranteed to result in more ambitious, creative, yet better-thought-out plans with broad buy-in that will actually be implemented. Talk to me about a 90-day trial to attack one of your Very Important Problems or Very Important Opportunities.

Six Clues Your Innovation Process is Broken

  1. Innovation is episodic.
  2. The process is invented from scratch (every time).
  3. Resources are held hostage.
  4. Innovations are force-fit into existing structures.
  5. Applying the same criteria to innovations as you do existing business.
  6. Insisting on innovations meeting their plans.

Read more HERE.

Eleven Ways Big Companies Undermine Innovation

  1. No definition of success - what is the problem or opportunity that the innovation is aimed at?
  2. Too much insistence on instant success, no time for experimentation.
  3. The CIO becomes the Chief Innovation Officer.
  4. It's the CEO's thing, only.
  5. Insisting that innovation can happen in cubicles, with no space to foster creativity.
  6. Innovations that threaten existing business are killed.
  7. Too short-term focused.
  8. Fear of releasing alpha or test versions to see what the market thinks.
  9. Only use ideas that come from within the organization.
  10. Failure to be avoided at all costs.
  11. Lack of long-term commitment.

This list is from Harvard Business Review (HERE). If you want to assess your innovation culture, contact me.

Patent Reform Divides Tech Community


Patent reform legislation is gaining momentum on Capital Hill, but is dividing members of the technology sector. At issue are patent infringement lawsuits that are deemed frivolous. So-called "patent trolls" sue patent holders for infringement, seeking settlements from companies that don't have the resources to fight them in court. Current law is particularly difficult for software firms. Major software companies like Microsoft and IBM are against the proposed changes because they would require the Patent Office to review patent infringement suits related to software. These companies believe that the Patent Office would take too long to act. But all tech companies are united in the belief that there should be financial consequences for patent infringement lawsuits that are found to be frivolous.


In related news, the National Venture Capital Association reported that growth in the number of patent "assertions" facing startup companies is hampering US venture capital. Eighty percent of VC respondents to a survey note that the number of suits has increased over the past five years. Three-quarters of VCs and 58 percent of startup companies reported that patent demands had a significant impact on their company, with the cost of preparing for and defending against demands exceeding $100,000. 

Read articles and op-eds by Cathy:


With Statoil gone, offshore wind project has a better chance of creating Maine jobs, Bangor Daily News, HERE


Create a Culture of Innovation, MaineBiz, HERE


 The good old days aren't returning, so Maine must find a way to compete, Portland Press Herald, HERE

In This Issue - December 2013
6 Clues Your Innovation Process is Broken
11 Ways to Undermine Innovation
Patent Reform
States' Investment in R&D
Building a Startup Hub

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Congrats --

Want to see your company here? Send me your press releases and news!


To Sea Change Group, for the issuance of their patent for glycerin-enhanced fuel for marine diesel engines. And, to their collaborator, Maine Maritime Academy, for a $1.4 million R&D grant to further the research, matched by a MTI Development Loan.


To health care informatics company iVantage Health Analytics who has purchased the Tennessee-based Xylem Consulting. The company was formed in 2011 through the merger of four separate health care information businesses and earlier this year raised $10.9 million through a Series A equity financing.


To Brunswick Landing and its partners who won $2 million to create a business incubator and technology accelerator for advanced manufacturing companies.

Quote of the Month 


"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect they looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

Steve Jobs

Building a Startup Hub Takes Years


To those who hope for economic development results during a single legislative or gubernatorial term, think again. Kauffman's new study demonstrates that high-tech startup hubs are more evenly spread across the US than many thought, but also that these locations have been investing in entrepreneurship for decades. Members of the top 10 list in 1990 and 2010 are: 

  • Boulder, CO; 
  • Manchester-Nashua, NH; 
  • Ann Arbor, MI; 
  • Rockingham-Strattford, NH; Huntsville, AL; 
  • Fort Collins-Loveland, CO. 


Read the whole report HERE.


This becomes even more critical for economic development when taken along with the new data on the importance of cities. Local leadership in cities is trumping national (and state) leadership, because they are taking on issues that Washington will not, or cannot, solve. Key policies advocated are: allowing businesses to grow and thrive, free businesses from excessive taxes, unnecessary regulations, focus government on infrastructure and protective services, and help educate, cultivate and equip entrepreneurs and the workforce of the future. More 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 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 just kicked off two projects -- one to design an incubator for Newport, RI in collaboration with Camoin Associates, and another with a partnership of Pew and CREC to work with states to evaluate their business incentives.  For a list of projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.