Notes from Innovation Policyworks


Years ago in graduate school, I wrote a paper about term limits. The findings of all the research at the time was that term limits had little impact on reducing influence in government, but did succeed in reducing institutional knowledge in legislatures, and thus gave bureaucracies more power.


In Maine, we have the worst of both worlds when it comes to research, development and innovation policy. Because of term limits, and almost wholesale turnover in state government, we have no institutional memory at all in Augusta. The legislature is considering bonds that are earmarked to various non-profit research institutions, and leave the Maine Technology Asset Fund, an award-winning, competitive program to allocate R&D bond funds out in the cold. MORE



Incubators, accelerators, co-working, oh my!


Since last summer, I've worked on two different incubator projects that ended up with novel and highly customized solutions for two very different places, Newport, RI and Allentown, PA. Now, the Washington Post has written about this trend as well, documenting the different models for supporting entrepreneurs in Montgomery County, MD and the District of Columbia. The answer, not surprisingly, is that no one size solution fits all places or all entrepreneurs. MORE

An Act to Increase Funding for Start-ups 


In an increasingly dreary legislative session here in Maine, there is one bright hope. A bill to enable crowdfunding in Maine was passed by the legislature and became law on March 1, without the Governor's signature. LD1512 amends state security laws and allows companies to raise up to $1,000,000 in $5,000 increments. What's not clear is how this law interacts with the federal crowdfunding legislation. It's best to consult with a qualified attorney before raising money using this mechanism. By the way, at least five other states, including Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina and Wisconsin, have enacted similar laws. Alabama's law is still being considered.

Would You Do This?


In a recent blog on the Harvard Business Review, the story of a CEO who lied to his team was recounted. The CEO lied to his team because he thought they were getting too complacent because they were incredibly successful. So, he made up a story about a competitor that was going to completely upset this company's marketplace and rock the foundations of their success. As a result, the team came up with a number of innovative ideas that would greatly improve the company. Only then did the CEO reveal that it was all "a bad dream." What do you think? Was this a good thing to do? Did the result - new ideas - justify the means - break the trust in the team? Read the whole story HERE

Exponential Trends


What trends will have far-reaching, transformative impacts? Deloitte's latest Tech Trends report suggests that there are five trends to watch:


  1. Artificial intelligence. AI will help us deal with information overload from Big Data using low-cost access to distributed and cloud computing. Think self-driving cars. "This is a move from computers as tools for executing tasks to a team member that helps guide thinking and can do work."
  2. Robotics. Every job could be automated, not just the repetitive ones where robots do manual labor. "The challenge is to create new jobs that involve tasks that only humans can do."
  3. Cyber security. In the near future, the Internet of Things will greatly increase the number of things that are linked and available for hacking.
  4. Additive manufacturing. 3D printing makes manufacturing complexity easy to access, allowing otherwise impossible designs to be realized. The technology could not only make spare parts, but potentially foods, and tissues (like nerves and bones).
  5. Advanced computing. Multidimensional computer chips, bio and quantum computing and other advances are raising the potential for an exponential expansion of what is possible computationally. Technologies are being developed that offer potentially unlimited bandwidth nearly everywhere.

Read more HERE.

Innovation Engineering Executive Program in Portland, ME April 2-3

Your Executive Team Will Learn the New Way of Thinking About Innovation


What:  The Innovation Engineering Executive Program is a 1.5 day training where you and your team of executives learn the fundamentals of how to lead and manage innovation as a "system" that delivers increased speed and decreased risk. The Program is an "Executive Summary" course designed to make senior executives literate in the new innovation mindset. The program is appropriate for executives who are new to Innovation Engineering and to those who have started the process and are looking to expand awareness and understanding.


Why:  Companies that innovate realize 200 to 300% increases in profit growth when they transform to a proactive innovation culture versus a reactive price-driven orientation. However, research indicates that executives feel that innovation can take a long time and can be very risky. The Innovation Engineering field of study and practice transforms innovation from a random art to a reliable business system that delivers increased speed (up to 6x) and decreased risk (30 to 80%). 


Cost: The executive program is designed for individuals and teams of up to 6 people.   The cost is $600.00 per person.


Contact me to learn more. 

In This Issue - March 2014
Incubators, accelerators, oh my!
Crowdfunding Act in ME
Would You Do This?
Exponential Trends
New IE Executive Program
Define Entrepreneur
Pessimism Bias?
Grid Defection

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Quote of the Month 


"A basketball team is like the five fingers on your hand. If you can get them all together, you have a fist. That's how I want you to play."



Mike Krzyzewski

What's an Entrepreneur, Anyway?


Politicians, especially, like to call anyone with a small business an entrepreneur. Economists are more likely to talk about entrepreneurs as those with ideas that are scalable and can grow quickly. This definitional challenge makes it difficult to talk about policy, and also to measure entrepreneurship. A new paper suggests that the number of self-made billionaires a place produces is the best measure. The paper demonstrates that "entrepreneur density" measured this way correlates with many things we associate with economic dynamism, such as the number of patents or the flow of venture capital. They also show that "entrepreneur density" is negatively correlated with rates of small business ownership! This has a profound implication for policy, because so many programs exist to support the Mom and Pop retailers, self-employed such as construction workers, landscapers, cleaners, etc. Read the research HERE.

You Have a Pessimism Bias!


Most would say that entrepreneurs look to the future and see opportunity - they tend to be pretty optimistic. A new Swedish study from Lund University finds that entrepreneurs are also right - it's actually non-entrepreneurs who are overly pessimistic in their assumptions about the future. In other words, just because someone is optimistic, it doesn't mean that they are wrong. Read the research HERE.


What Happens When Companies Can Say No to the Grid?


Sharp decreases in battery prices mean that storing energy generated through renewable sources such as wind and solar is becoming a reality. The implications are profound, both for companies and communities, and for energy utilities. Read a report by Rocky Mountain Institute 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 just completed a business plan for an incubator  and coworking space for Newport, RI in collaboration with Camoin Associates, and is starting a new partnership of Pew and CREC to work with states to evaluate their business incentives.  For a list of projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.