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Notes from Innovation Policyworks
Summer is fleeting here in Maine. One minute, it's the first warm beach day; the next, it's what my grandmother called "the Fall-ish change." We learn quickly to get in as much outdoors time as possible in June, July and August, take every opportunity to eat lobsters, corn-on-the-cob, and blueberry pie, and savor each moment against the reality of winter ahead!

Many involved in economic development, however, don't recognize how fleeting their opportunities are. But the world around us is changing so fast that by the time we understand what's happening, the window to act is already closing. Policy windows, especially, can be very narrow. The time leading to a gubernatorial election, for instance, is short, but often the only real chance every eight years to influence an incoming administration. The time when an industry or region is in crisis, and previously antagonistic players are willing to work together is also usually short.

Fear can interfere with the willingness to "Seize the Day." But we must overcome this fear in order to take advantage of the opportunity. So, I'm taking the afternoon off to go kayaking. What are you doing to do today that you might not be able to do tomorrow?


The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder is 45
The highest performing startups, based on employment growth, were founded by middle-aged entrepreneurs. 

This is the surprising finding of a new study that debunks the popular myth of the young entrepreneur. Of course, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others are famous for starting young, but the study notes that the growth of their firms peaked when these men were older. Experience plays a huge role: those with at least three years of experience in the same narrow industry as their startup were 85% more likely to launch a highly successful startup compared to founders with no relevant experience. Read the study HERE.

Does Public R&D Investment Pay Off?
R&D investments made under ARRA paid off with new jobs at a relatively reasonable cost, compared to other economic development efforts.

Science is perceived as a long-term endeavor, something that is inherently good, but with little immediate impact. A new study from the University of Michigan looked at R&D spending in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). They discovered that over the five-year period that the program operated, each one million dollars of R&D and science spending was associated with 27 new jobs with an estimated job-year cost of $15,000. Read the study HERE

This is good news, along with the fact that around eighty percent of US adults support government investment in medical research, engineering, technology and basic scientific research. However, there is a wide partisan divide, with 78 percent of liberal Democrats saying government funding of research is essential for scientific progress, while only 31% of Republicans agree. See the Pew research HERE.

Another Myth: Intrapreneurs
Corporations need an innovation culture and system as well as innovative individuals.

We like to think that inside large corporations there are talented individuals who are doing the innovation for the whole company. Andrew Corbett's work at Babson College suggests that in actuality, the more common scenario is that a single individual can't take an innovation all the way from idea to reality, and without proper support, can result in massive missed opportunities. (Easy examples: Kodak and digital photography; Xerox and personal computing). Corbett says, "If companies want to be able to consistently innovate, they need dedicated innovation professionals to carry out the functions of discovery, development, incubation, acceleration and scaling." But this also needs to happen in the context of a company-wide innovation management system to includes leadership commitment, culture, governance, mandate for change, processes, tools, metrics, and specific innovation skills and talent. Read his article HERE.

Immigrants have created over 33,000 Jobs
Amid the current immigration crisis, a key fact has been obscured: Immigrants play a major part in the US startup ecosystem. 

 Founders and co-founders from other countries have created one-half of the billion-dollar startups that existed as of January 2016, with an average of 760 jobs each. The study notes: 

"Outstanding immigrant entrepreneurs . . .include Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX; Garrett Camp, co-founder of Uber; Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of Moderna Therapeutics and 37 other companies, primarily through Flagship Ventures, the firm he heads; Jyoti Bansal, who waited 7 years for his employment-based green card to start AppDynamics, which employs 900 people [. . .]; Amr Awadallah, co-founder of Cloudera [. . .]; [and] Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder of CloudFlare." 

Read more details about these 44 companies HERE.

Montgomery County, MD Supports its  Entrepreneurial  Companies 
First County to Offer SBIR matching grants

Building on its long-standing location as a Washington, DC suburb, and home to NIH and a large number of startup life sciences companies, Montgomery County, MD, has become the first county in the country to offer a SBIR Matching Grant program. A total of $425,000 was included in the budget to provide matching up to 25% of a Phase I grant with a cap of $25,000, or 25% of a Phase II grant up to $75,000. Details are available HERE.

Rising Star
Senator Cory Booker, a likely 2020 Democratic candidate for President, has written a compellingly person piece for the Brooking Institution, detailing his modest beginnings, but also outlining the "broken" American dream that many experience, despite the strong economy. Worth a read to understand the thinking of this rising star. 

In This Issue - Summer 2018

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Quote of the Month 
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. " 
Mark Twain

Innovation Spark of the Month
Last month the Australian government passed a  bill  to axe the tax on feminine hygiene products.  Universally dubbed the 'tampon tax', the tax was a product of the fact that feminine hygiene products were classified as luxury items under Australian law. A similar tax still exists in many places, including the UK and some US states. Each time a country makes this kind of change, millions of citizens around the world will look to their own governments and ask: what are you doing to help achieve true equality for everyone in this country?

Trend-Watching asks: 

What outmoded practices and attitudes are stopping your business from treating everyone equally?

Metrics for Entrepreneurship Programs
Have you been wondering how to convince your stakeholders that your program is performing well? My book on evaluating entrepreneurial programs, written for the International Business Innovation Association (iNBIA), is available on its website. The basics apply to any economic development program. Check it out HERE.

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135 Maine Street, Suite A-183 · Brunswick, ME 04011 · 207.522.9028

Innovation Policyworks enables economic development officials at state, regional and local levels make better, data-driven decisions by providing expert research, analysis and recommendations. Our clients see innovation and entrepreneurship as critical elements of their economic development strategy, and are developing new programs or policies, and/or evaluating existing ones. 

Dr. Catherine S. Renault has been delivering innovation-based economic development results in rural states for more than 25 years, most recently as science advisor and Director of the Office of Innovation for the State of Maine. Cathy is currently finishing a cluster strategy for Maine's Forest Products industry and an entrepreneurial assessment and recommendations for Indiana's agbioscience cluster.
   For a list of selected projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.