We hosted the second Innovation Advisory Board at the Carlson School of Management. Attendance grew as we had asked members to invite key peers to the group. This meeting was to focus in more depth around four district funding models required to power each stage of the innovation lifecycle. Currently many of the Minneapolis based companies that are on the board are already working with innovation centers around the USA and/or abroad. Their insights into existing models, funding structures, and expected operational costs was fantastic input into our research. What became quickly evident was many centers only focus on one to two phases of a full lifecycle and usually with a specific focus on outcomes for the ecosystem. Some examples are in the form of classic accelerators and incubators. Each plays a role, but doesn’t necessarily contain the path to full commercialization. Many regions today have a great number of events and contests, but those really produce any long term results other than some visibility to the winners and the overall brand perception of the region. What our mission is focused on looking how to integrate all the assets and activities within the region to create a more cohesive lifecycle and results. The power lay within all the independent efforts and future efforts that are put forth, but providing platforms that they can leverage to increase their value and provide an integration of “next step” across the ecosystem as a whole. Certainly the identification of what exists and what gaps remain is an essential step, but deeper in the process is looking at the patterns and types of funding mechanisms that enable the ecosystem. While many activities are supported by philanthropic or government grants, this is not a sustainable model as it fluctuates each year. Industry can provide a better and more sustainable method, but it can also attract the philanthropic dollars if better aligned to more durable business services and processes.
We dug into four major funding models that would support different stages of the lifecycle. Feedback is being incorporated into the models and will be represented at the next meeting.
While this meeting was primary focused on the entrepreneurial innovation lifecycle, there has been some discussion around the corporate innovation lifecycle and approaches different companies are making to build internal capabilities and innovation cultural development.