2014 Russian Innovation Tour

RU Innovation TourA Innovation delegation from Russia visited Minnesota from March 24-25, 2015.   Led by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie in partnership with the Minnesota Trade Office.   The tour visited many facilities in MN as well as academic institutions.   I was able to host several delegates at the Carlson School of Management to discuss the success they have had in Russia building innovation centers and a network between many of the Universities in the country.   Several learnings where readily apparent:

  • They had successfully been able to create innovation centers to accelerate and assist in commercialization planning in a fairly short timeframe
  • It required a full team of networkers, VCs, mentors, and administration staff with a mature process and methodology to provide acceleration services
  • They had adopted best practices from other innovation areas globally including processes and training from MIT
  • By networking the Universities, each would be able to adopt similar practices and increase the overall volume of ideas going through acceleration and valuation
  • There is an enormous amount of leading edge research and technology ready for commercialization
  • Pilot programs with US Universities where just launching to build innovation corridors for technology exchange and market access.   The first cohorts of RU companies where being hosted in the US centers after completing their initial acceleration and commercialization planning abroad

Many of these learning are consistent across innovation centers around the world and in the USA.   We are at the beginning of emerging best practices on both the business maturation and funding models of the centers.  There is also a shared desire to create two way innovation corridors networking the best technology with the best partners and markets.

Images and Bios: https://www.pinterest.com/davidiwilliams/umn-international/

Expo 2023 Gathering

Expo_2023_Logo_Tagline11I was one of many speakers participating in the conversation about bringing the World’s Fair to Minnesota.     The breadth of perspectives on the potential benefits was quite diverse.   Speaker topics ranged from economics, global branding, talent, academic, innovation etc. The session concluded with a Q&A format exploring the key steps,  challenge and obstacles for hosting the fair.

Some of the challenges identified:

  • US withdrew from the Expo community over global politics.  There has not been an expo hosted in the USA since, so policy has to be reversed to pursue
  • There is a international bidding process where cities compete to win the fair.   MN is targeting 2023 vs one of the more contest years like 20 or 25.  The bid process has begun already both with the IEB and with other cities that have moved further down the process for other years
  • There is concern over funding – some expo’s have lost money
  • There is concern over the location – with a state wide fair, would their be multiple destinations
  • There is concern over the infrastructure – this creates a great opportunity to invest in improvements in road, air and rail for the state
  • There is concern over repurposing the structures after the fair – again, with planning, expos have revitalized areas of cities and created new buildings repurposed for trade, innovation, education, etc creating new regional assets

At this time the community has been meeting about one a month to develop the conversation and gain feedback into the process.  Stay tuned as plans develop.

See more speakers from the event:  https://www.pinterest.com/davidiwilliams/umn-economic-development/