Notes from Innovation Policyworks


Last week brought the news that a friend in the technology-based economic development community resigned his position at a high-flying state program amidst press reports that the economic and financial results had been inflated. There are several interesting implications of this event. Read more HERE.



Innovation Engineering Update


Announcing the new IE Executive Program. 


It's a 1.5 day program that includes an overview of IE, and more importantly, the role than leadership plays in the process by articulating the strategy for growth.


A CEO that just attended said, "It is really inspiring to be here and I really feel like I now understand the tools better." Another said, "I am just amazed as I look at all the new tools the program has... I can see how the system has really expanded in smart ways."


The next open enrollment date for Innovation Engineering Executive Program is February 10 and 11 at the Eureka! Ranch in Cincinnati. There are a couple dozen more dates that will be announced soon. Let me know if you are interested in attending, or if we should present this program here!


The Future of MOOCs


President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report late in December that was cautious about Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) saying, "It would be premature to impose standards and regulations that might impair the power of competitive market forces to motivate innovation." While many are praising MOOCs for providing flexible modes of education, and the recent trend to offering credits and certificates through these online platforms, others are concerned about the quality of education delivered. On the other hand, new data from a University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education study show that massive open online courses (MOOCs) have relatively few active users, that user "engagement" falls off dramatically-especially after the first 1-2 weeks of a course-and that few users persist to the course end. 

Why Some Communities Have More Entrepreneurs


A new study out from researchers at Temple, Duke and the University of Missouri finds that the strength of local social networks and trust plays a major role in whether a city is able to foster a culture of entrepreneurship. If networks are strong, entrepreneurs can get the word out about their new businesses. And, strong networks and trust can help them earn the type of positive reputation that makes it possible to secure financing, gain employees and win customers. Richard Florida quotes the study to support his argument that entrepreneurship is less about unique and motivated people, and more about the social process of building teams in the context of an entrepreneurial community. Read MORE

Managing Leap or Radical Innovation


I recently read a blog where the author complained that everything is being labeled an innovation, and that only really radical innovations should count. There clearly are two types of innovation: those that are radical because they obsolete existing products or address new markets, and those that modify existing products (think New Coke). 


A recent study by the Product Development and Management Association found that radical innovations accounted for only 10 percent of the average company's portfolio of new products, down from 21 percent in 1990. This may be because the probability of failure of a radical innovation was estimated to be 80-90 percent, but profitability was estimated to be twice as high as product modifications. 


This argues for an innovation system such as Innovation Engineering that can reduce the probability of failure dramatically, while accelerating the development of these more profitably products. More data from the study is HERE

Founder's Dilemma


I was talking with a serial entrepreneur the other day at lunch, and we were bemoaning that company founders don't always know how to leave their company gracefully. Many are capable of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory." Today I found this five-year old article by Harvard Business School Professor Noam Wasserman that contains an explanation of this phenomenon. Essentially, he says, founders have to choose between being rich or being king. Here's his conclusion - it is so apt.


"Choosing between money and power allows entrepreneurs to come to grips with what success means to them. Founders who want to manage empires will not believe they are successes if they lose control, even if they end up rich. Conversely, founders who understand that their goal is to amass wealth will not view themselves as failures when they step down from the top job. Once they realize why they are turning entrepreneur, founders must, as the old Chinese proverb says, "decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time." "


The entire article is HERE.

In This Issue - December 2013
New IE Executive Program
The Future of MOOCs
Why Some Communities Have More Entrepreneurs
Managing Radical Innovations
Founder's Dilemma
Is Cleantech Dead?
Innovation Act Passes House

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Is Cleantech dead?


A week ago, 60 Minutes aired a piece about cleantech that most people I know in the business think missed the mark. HERE's the best commentary I read on the subject. 

The World's Smallest Political Quiz


Ten questions. That's all there is to this online quiz that supposedly will tell you where you are on the political map. The quiz comes from a libertarian organization, and is interesting because it asks about your views on personal liberties as well as economics. The results are in a diamond shape, not the usual two-dimensional "Left-Right" continuum. Click HERE and see what you think. 

Quote of the Month 


"Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric"


Bertrand Russell

Innovation Act Passes House


The Innovation Act passed the House of Representative 325-91 in early December, and was referred to the Senate for consideration. This is the so-called "patent trolls" bill that will hopefully discourage the practice of filing frivolous patent infringement lawsuits to shake down technology companies. The National Venture Capital Association says that one in three startups faces infringement accusations from patent trolls, suits that are often settled because the startups don't have the fund to fight the trolls in court. 

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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 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.