I hosted Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, at the Carlson School of Management today to review the North Star Initiative that I have been leading. This effort is studying Innovation ecosystems and models of Innovation Centers to established potential models and approaches for implementation in US cities. Our visit today would be to share some of the leading trends and practices from the study and look at potential state support and corporate network contacts that could be engaged in the initative.
One area of immediate alignment was with the World’s Fair initiative being lead by the secretary. With Minnesota on a path to win the bid to host a World’s Fair by 2023, it puts the state on a tight timeline for a whole spectrum of infrastructure investments. World’s Fairs have been used by recent fairs for extensive investment in the cities infrastructure to make it more competitive in the future and creative an environment and lifestyle suited to attack talent and investment in the region.
A benefit of building Innovation Centers now is it would allow them to be thriving and driving various cluster level initiatives by the time the fair would bring the world to the MN doorstep. Bringing international exchange corridors to the centers would also increase the exchange of tech and talent with other countries around the world. This would increase international partnerships for the fair and set the stage for increasing the development of exchange corridors to other countries we would host.
While Minnesota has been a cluster leader in areas like high tech and medical device the future lies in the worlds cities that become global cluster leaders and become the centers global networks for trade, tech, and talent. Innovation Centers are a key component to enable this journey and the build of durable business cluster services that are recognized and relied upon around the world. While Innovation Centers are springing up around the globe, Minnesota is trailing behind by a ever widening gap to other states in the USA. The world’s fair could be an catalyst to invigorate the state around a shared agenda to aspire to a larger leadership role in global business.