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Notes from Innovation Policyworks
This week marks ten years since my husband and I moved to Maine. Only a few weeks after we moved, we experienced the 2007 Patriot's Day* nor-easter. We had a lot of snow and lost power for several days. My husband, who spent his formative years in Alabama, wasn't impressed. Despite that inauspicious beginning, we're still here, and have no plans to leave.
Similarly, it has been ten years since I started writing this newsletter. For the first four years, it was called Mainely Innovations, and was published from the Office of Innovation. For the past six years, it's been under Innovation Policyworks.
The goal has always been the same: to bring information about the world of innovation and entrepreneurship to readers who aren't necessarily in the business of economic development 24/7.  I firmly believe that economic growth isn't a partisan issue - we all want jobs for our neighbors, our children, and ourselves. And it's well documented that innovation and entrepreneurship - whether in high-tech fields or not - are major drivers of growth.
And so, despite the emergence of a world of alternative facts, I will continue to bring you data that can be used to shape public policy and organizational strategy.
Happy reading!

* " Listen, my children, and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, on the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five... "
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How Not to Make American Great Again
Dan Berglund, SSTI's Executive Director, is not normally prone to bold pronouncements, or editorializing. However, he made a rare exception this month with a commentary about the newly released federal budget proposal. 

Dan said, "From the information contained in the document, it is clear the Administration does not view science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship and the economic development efforts built around those activities as the path forward to making "America great again." The program eliminations and drastic cuts are not the way to move the country forward economically." 

He goes on to say, "Beyond a clear ideological view that the federal government has no role in promoting economic growth - a position rejected since at least the early 1800s when the federal government funded canals and other key infrastructure items, it is hard to view this proposal as anything more than a negotiating tactic." Click HERE to read the whole editorial and call to action.

Female-founded, VC-funded
Pitchbook just releases a new infographic showing aggregate data on female-founded, venture capital-funded companies in the US. The good news: VC investments in female-founded companies is on the rise, with 16.8% of VC companies having at least one female founder, up from 7.2% in 2006. However, only one quarter of those companies were entirely female founders; 77 percent have at least one female founder. It helps for female founders to have a business school degree or other advanced degree, more than it helps their male counterparts. Guess the women still need to prove themselves. The data are HERE

Productivity, not Employment, is the Right Thing to Watch
While the February unemployment report brought cheers from many quarters, (including the White House where these new numbers were Not Fake News, although January's were Fake News), the low rate conceals troubling trends in productivity. Since 2004, productivity has been expanding at the slowest pace since WWII. This is a problem because productivity is a prerequisite for long-term real wage growth and increased living standards.

However, the metric is crude - economic output per worker - and there are massive variations across the country. For instance, large metro areas have a productivity of $119,000 compared to $101,000 for non-metro areas. The highest labor productivity in 2015 was found in San Jose, at $173,971, while the lowest was $89,855 for Daytona Beach, FL. Higher labor productivity is also associated with higher incomes and lower poverty. 

 Brookings observes that "global integration and technological advances have created winner-take-all dynamics in many industries" and that the lack of diffusion of technology is a big reason why regions are falling behind. Upgrading technology at legacy firms and industries would be a big help, they suggest, and addressing productivity disparities across regions should be a priority. Read MORE.
Why is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?
Bias and discrimination is insidious. Back in the day, it was obvious by Jim Crow laws and social convention that people of color and women were second class citizens. These days, with voting rights and equal access, it seems like things should be better. A revealing article in The Atlantic shows just how widespread and unconscious much gender (and race) bias is. We all look for mirrors: people who look like us, who went to school where we did, or who have life experiences like ours. Yet when this happens in the workplace, valuable diversity, creativity and contributions are lost.  Read THIS and weep. We have so far to go. 

Innovating the Business of Education
Clay Christensen's think tank has released a new thought piece about innovation in higher education. Written by collaborator Alana Dunagan, the report suggests, " The nature of competition in higher education is changing-presenting both challenges and opportunities. For decades, centuries even, higher education has been on a continuous trajectory of developing more complex and comprehensive institutions to build and disseminate knowledge and educate students. But technology is enabling a new, disruptive path: simpler, more affordable, more accessible educational experiences, built in alignment to the needs of the workforce." To review the whole report, click HERE.

How Many Jobs Can Governors Take Credit For?
We all have watched a news story where a local company announces an expansion, or a company from away announces a new plant. Inevitably, some politician is there, shaking hands, and claiming success. But just how much influence does any politician have, especially governors? 

Economists who study these things say, "Not much." The consensus: only 5 to 10 percent of the change in employment in any given four-year period is related to changes in public policy that governors can affect. Most of the things that affect a state's economy are way beyond a governor's control, such as aging populations, fluctuations in commodity prices, weather events, national market trends and international political situations. MORE.
When America Was Great at Innovation
Innovation and economic growth go together, and it has always been more prevalent in some regions than others. In the golden age of innovation in the US - in the late 1880s - not the 1980s or 1990s - lone inventors were the kings. They invented in pursuit of profit, and there were substantial returns to be first and right. The best inventors - like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and Alexander Graham Bell - were pioneers, and led the way to today's prosperity. More history HERE
International Business Innovation Association (iNBIA) Meeting in Seattle
I'm in Seattle this week at the annual iNBIA meeting. I'm presenting on two panels, one on metrics for entrepreneurship programs and one on innovation districts in rural areas. I'm joined on the second panel by Glendowlyn Thames from CTNext, Joe Maruscak from RAIN in Eugene, OR and John Provo from Virginia Tech. My book, Metrics for Entrepreneurship Support Organizations, will be released at the conference. 
In This Issue - Late March 2017

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Quote of the Month 
" Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless."
Thomas Alva Edison

Why Politics is Failing America
The most recent issue of Fortune, hardly a radical magazine, contains an article with this provocative title, written by Katherine Gehl and Michael Porter. Their central argument is that the "political-industrial complex" has become a duopoly that is extremely uncompetitive. As a result, they say, "the preferences of the average voter have a near-zero impact on public policy." They point the blame at the two major political parties and the special interests, lobbyists, pollsters, consultants, think tanks, super PACs, and the media - all of whom are connected to one side or the other. The resulting political competition is "designed not to advance the public interest, but rather to cultivate loyal funding sources and motivate partisan primary voters." Check out the author's suggested remedies HERE.
The Case of the Missing Comma
As a former copyeditor, I'd be remiss if I didn't share the extraordinary case where a Maine labor dispute appeal was predicated on the elusive Oxford comma. The Oxford comma is the one that appears in a list just before "and" or "or." It makes a big difference. Think about the difference between, "She brought her parents, Bill and Sue" and "She brought her parents, Bill, and Sue." In the first sentence, two people visited, while in the second sentence, four people came! In the Maine statute, a list of activities exempted from overtime pay lacked the Oxford comma, and so the labor union won their suit to recover overtime wages, at least for now. For me, I'm back to using the Oxford comma.
Measuring Maine's Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Following the lead of the Kauffman Foundation, Maine Accelerates Growth (MxG), a collaboration of many organizations in Maine's entrepreneurial ecosystem, took the first step last week to document its impact. MxG released its first report, looking at Density of entrepreneurs, Fluidity (the ability of people to move), Connectivity and Diversity. The results are early, but the dedication to working together remains as strong as ever. Learn more about MxG HERE

I-Corp Gaining Steam
A National Science Foundation project, I-Corp, is helping to train the nation's scientists to be better entrepreneurs. Over 700 teams have been trained, and they have gone on to raise more than $80 million from venture funding, government grants and other sources. Based on the lean start-up philosophy of Steve Blank, I-Corp is focused on helping the scientists funded by NSF see potential commercial applications to their work. 

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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 working with 
the University of Southern Maine, the Maine Venture Fund, and a biomass generation project. (Please note, Oxford comma!)  For a list of selected projects, see www.innovationpolicyworks.com/projects.