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Notes from Innovation Policyworks
In Maine, the legislature is currently debating slowing or eliminating an increase in the minimum wage enacted last year after a citizen initiative passed. Small businesses came to Augusta to argue that they couldn't raise their prices, and so the increase in their labor costs was too high. 
For small businesses who sell products based on price alone, it's probably true that raising prices isn't possible. But why don't these businesses try to offer new products or services that aren't commodities? Why don't they try innovation as a strategy? It may be that many small businesses think innovation is something that only high-tech
companies can do. Here are some examples, all small Maine Companies, that prove them wrong. Read more HERE.


How Cities Can Help Entrepreneurs of Color Scale Up
The data are clear that minority entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs and rural entrepreneurs face structural challenges in terms of capital raised, growth and success.

It's insidious, really, how our assumptions get in the way of doing the right thing.  I think part of the reason is that we pigeon-hole these entrepreneurs into the "small business" category, and provide services for companies to survive rather than thrive and grow. Many folks are now addressing this disparity, and their strategies are well summarized in their piece from the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. They say:
1.     Build more capacity for entrepreneurial support
2.     Target support in sectors with high demand from large buyers
3.     Create more inclusive industry specific entrepreneurial support organizations
4.     Invest in new partnerships
5.     Ensure access to growth capital from multiple sources.

Creating, Building and Supporting Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: What You Can Do
Now available on Amazon Kindle!

Well, it has finally happened! I've been threatening to do something big for months, and it's finally here! My book, Creating, Building and Supporting Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: What You Can Do, is now available on Amazon Kindle! The link is HERE!

Every community, region or state is unique. It has its own demographics, geography, history, culture, business and industry mix, assets and politics. To figure out how to create, building or grow an entrepreneurial ecosystem requires an understanding of both the framework of innovation and entrepreneurship-based economic development, and a replicable, reliable process for linking that framework to your situation.
This short book is both a quick introduction to the framework, and an overview of the process, with examples from around the US to give you inspiration. 
I hope you enjoy it! If you do, please write a review!

N2 Innovation District Hits Milestones
The initiative, led by the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce, continues to make great progress.

A few years ago, I worked with Camoin Associates to write a strategy for an innovation district in Newton and Needham, MA, hence N2!  Northland, the developer than is planning a major project right in the core of the district, has outlined plans for a mixed-use development that includes a lot of green space, a community center, provides housing, retail and parking. LabShare, a shared wet lab space has opened and the Chamber is taking the lead on the Newton Innovation Center. Mount Ida College has been sold to UMass for a STEM training facility. And, the Chamber is launching its second funding campaign. Congrats to Greg and the team!

Clean Tech investments Swing Back Up!
However, clean tech startups are still challenged by long development cycles and significant capital requirements.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, venture capital and private equity investments in the clean technology sector grew 127% from 2017 to 2018, totaling $9.2 billion.  Wells Fargo has recently announced $1 million in grants to address the capital gaps, including a share to the Clean Tech Open, a national accelerator active in the sector. 
More HERE.
Guess What? Millennials Aren't So Different After All
The Federal Reserve Board's economists have published a report that finds "little evidence that millennial households have tastes and preferences for consumption that are lower than those of earlier generations." 

This finding screws up lots and lots of narratives out there about millennial preferences for everything from housing to food to transportation. According to the economists, a lot of the observed differences were really due to the impact of the financial crisis and noted, "as the recovery gained steam, younger buyers began to look increasingly like their older cohorts as their employment and income prospects improved." Read the research HERE.

Innovation Districts Update from Brookings
An update focusing on shared challenges to creating these places

Brookings, who first documented the phenomenon of innovation districts in 2014, has released an update focusing on shared challenges to creating these places. They outline three dilemmas that they are observing. 
  1. The deadzone dilemma. Sometimes the changes to the physical environment sacrifice authenticity and a sense of identity. Historic "gritty" buildings make way for "soulless" modern buildings of steel and glass.
  2. The disconnect dilemma. If time is not allotted to the development of a shared agenda, places often have difficulty with leveraging their physical assets as innovation enablers.
  3. The divide dilemma. Especially in districts that encompass a large educational institution, the physical line between the campus and the surrounding neighborhoods can be divisive.
These challenges are worth contemplating as innovation districts proliferate. Read more HERE

Another State TBED Initiative Gone

In Utah, a state initiative for the advancement of science and technology, USTAR, is being dissolved. Despite a strong evaluation from TEConomy completed in 2018, there were legislative proposals to kill off the organization. A leading supporter, Rep. Mike Winder, said, "As we look around the country, there is tremendous value in having a quasi-independent group like USTAR in place. And, despite the hiccups that USTAR has had in years past, technology commercialization is more important to Utah's future than ever." The legislature passed the bill to close USTAR in mid-March and the Governor signed it on March 26.

In This Issue - April 2019

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Quote of the Month 
" Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities."
Jeff Bezos
Founder, Amazon

New to Innovation, Entrepreneurship or Economic Development?
Want to learn more about what programs work and why?

Five Strategies for Economic Development that enhance innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Click HERE for a complimentary PDF that outlines the whys and wherefores!

Innovation of the Month
Straws made from seaweed

Loliware, capitalizing on recent concerns about pollution in the ocean, is now producing a drinking straw made from seaweed! The Loliware Straw is 100% plant-based, hyper-compostable and marine degradable, in addition to being gluten-free, sugar-free, and non-GMO. The R&D was accomplished by a team of seaweed biologists and biopolymer food technologists and will be producing nearly 2 million straws a week at its plant in upstate New York. 

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 almost 30 years, most recently as science advisor and Director of the Office of Innovation for the State of Maine. Cathy is currently working on a feasibility study for an entrepreneurial support space in Biddeford, ME and is also developing an online course on innovation-based economic development .
  For a list of selected projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.