Here are my take-aways from the Global Innovation Summit 2014

H ere are some of my takeaways from the Global Innovation Summit that I attended in San Jose last week, a fantastic event.

Before you go any further, though: Pull out your January 2015 calendar and mark down on January 1: Attend Global Innovation Summit 2015.

I’m taking these observations from my notes, so apologies if I’ve misstated some of the points. Also, I have more notes than time allows me to share. I’ll catch up in future posts.

Victor Hwang, Our host

And author of The Rainforest and chief designer of the Global Innovation Summit (and others, including Jane Crawford) in the opening sessions:

  • People focused on building regional innovation ecosystems are “architects of the invisible”.
  • We must establish a social contract within the ecosystem. A contract can convert conflict into innovation. (My thought:  We are talking not really about a social contract as much as a “civic contract”. For an example of a civic contract, look to our Strategic Doing credo.)
  • Innovative communities need safe spaces where people can innovate.
  • Ostracism is powerful. Exclusion is similar to physical pain.   (My thought: ostracism is an effective way to enforce our “civic contract”.  Look to the work of Purdue professor Kip Williams for more in-depth understanding of the power of ostracism.)

Part of the power of the Silicon Valley ecosystem comes from the shared ethic of “paying it forward”.

Annalee Saxenian, author of Regional Advantage

  • The original analysis of Regional Advantage neglected the vital role of immigrants. Saxenian filled the gap with The New Argonauts.
  • We have to improve dramatically the data we are using to measure the productivity of regional innovate systems.
  • A primary opportunity: Measuring people flows.
  • The character of Silicon Valley is deeply embedded in the history of the place and the personalities of the initial founders, like Shockley: escaping the bureaucracy and hierarchy of the East Coast.
  • The 1980’s saw a new wave of start-ups that were more open and networks. Her work in Regional Advantage was exquisitely timed.
  • Thie Valley has developed the ethic that competition is tied to mutual learning. There are different technical pathways to market opportunities. Before the fact, no one knows the right answer.
  • The Achilles Heel of Silicon Valley: the idea that the Public Good is somehow detached from the wealth generation that goes on in the Valley.  Managing the public/private boundary: “We do not do this well”.

Steve Blank:

  • It only takes 5 to 6 people to start buzz in an ecosystem.
  • We take it for granted in Silicon Valley to “pay it forward”.
  • For an example of how to think about an ecosystem, check out the Bend, Oregon ecosystem analyzed here, here and here.
  • Check out the Secret History of  Silicon Valley.
  • Not all startups are the same.  There are:  lifestyle startups, small business startups, scalable startups, buyable startups (e.g., WhatsApp),  and corporate startups.
  •  There are also startups in an existing market; startups that re-segment an existing market; startups in a new market; and startup clones.
  • Part of the problem with the Internet bubble arose from the failure of investors to understand the different types of startups and their connection to market development.

Kaufman Fellows:

  •  A new kind of venture capital is emerging, one that is more transparent and distributed.
  •  Transparency is breaking open capital markets.
  •  We’re developing new models of “smart, connected capital”.
  •  Open question: “how do we scale the Kaufman Fellows?” One answer: Kaufman Fellows Academy.
  • People are moving away from a concern about where their money is going and they are caring more about what their money is doing.

Brad Feld, author of Startup Communities

  • We can create startup ecosystems anywhere in the world.
  • Ecosystems are not necessarily geographically based. Turn a geographically based ecosystem on its side and start looking for horizontal connections.
  • Four principles: 1) entrepreneurs lead successful startup communities; 2) leaders must have a long-term commitment (20+ years); 3) startup communities must be inclusive of anyone who wants to participate; and 4) startup communities must have continual activities to engage the entire “entrepreneurial stack”.

Swedish Ecosystem (Jonas Klevhag and Anne Lidgard):

  • Vinnova (the Swedish innovation agency) has “orchestration power”.
  • Sweden made a strategic decision to fund R&D in the mid-1990s; the impacts are showing up 2030 years later.
  • Sweden is strong and innovation but challenged in entrepreneurship, yet, the entrepreneurship landscape has been shifting rapidly in the past five years.
  • Sweden needs a new self-image, new story, a new narrative to tell the world. “Who are we to the world?”
  •  There are 50 incubators in Sweden, a country of about 10 million people. On top of  this foundation of incubators, new regional clusters are forming.
  •  The government role shifts as technologies and markets develop. Managing this transition is difficult for government.
  • Here are some slides Anne prepared in 2013 that provide an outline of the Swedish ecosystem:

Education technology ecosystems

  • The best content resources are coming from teachers who self publish. (My thought:  Interesting….this  development creates a disintermediation of textbook publishers and textbook regulators.)
  • Don’t get carried away with edtech: Teacher pipelines are more important than tech pipelines.
  • How can we use education technology to fill the gap in STEM teacher preparation?

Some general thoughts:

  • Design thinking is a critical skilled help us imagine the invisible, dynamic complexity of innovation ecosystems.
  • Hopefully, the Global Innovation Summit for 2015 will provide more opportunities for skill development: for example: design thinking;  visual thinking; and agile strategy in open networks.
Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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