Minneapolis ILO Event

A6F2397E-CAC5-4F23-A31A-C3E2E9BF1F78.pngI was invited to attend the 2015 Institute for Innovation in Large Organizations (ILO) event in Minneapolis.   The attendees where specifically innovation officers for large organizations. There was good representation from major corporations and institutions across the Twin Cities.   The event featured speakers sharing insights into best practices and innovation trends.   Attendees also participated in active workshopping around topics and peer to peer networking.   The ILO is a membership based organization that provides events, research, and consulting services to its member bases.  I found the networking to be fantastic and interesting to meet so many professionals who are early in their journey of building out innovation practices within their corporations.   I look forward to future events.


Briefing ITASCA / McKinsey Board Reps


I was able to present my work on developing innovation ecosystems to some board representatives of ITASCA at the McKinsey offices in downtown Minneapolis.   The presentation covered many aspects including:
  • Key global trends in innovation
  • USA based examples of innovation ecosystem investment and approaches
  • Minnesota strengths, weaknesses and gaps in our current ecosystem
  • The core lifecycle of services needed and the role the university and other partners could play
  • The new funding models for a sustainable lifecycle
  • International partnership interest in supporting our building out of services
  • Supporting technology platforms
The Q&A was very engaged and explored deeper insights into the model and what is blocking progress within the region.   There was also good discussion around governance aspects of the model and role of government, NGOs and private institutions roles within supporting the ecosystem.   In many cases the catalysts for starting a “shift” in ecosystem development begins in the culture and leadership spaces.   New business behaviors, language, and values have to proceed for stakeholders to understand the roles they need to play in both facilitating the change and support the new models once in place.
This was the first in a growing list of public and private institution and foundation conversations that will be proceeding the development of multiple advisory and operational boards created to support a larger regional strategy for developing an innovation ecosystem.
See more innovation in the gallery


Technopuc / Brazil Corporate Research Park


I was able to sit down with researchers working at the Tecnopuc corporate research park in Brazil to discuss the best practices around the implementation of the park,  innovation services, and research on how collaboration is forming in these large scale centers.   This park is a more traditional corporate research park that has been springing up around the world in countries across Asia, Europe, Australia, and South America.   Here large number of industries start to converge around concepts of collaboration, innovation, strategic partnerships, shared services, research and financial incentives.   For many large companies participation in these global parts is a critical success strategy for both global partnerships and as entry points into new markets.    Technopuc also features an integrated university that is supporting the park and doing research across industries and innovation. The number of shared services is relatively low at this point,  so much of the networking research today is focused on serendipity vs. actual facilitation and orchestration.   Even the research around serendipity alone is impressive showing the collaboration and partnerships that organically occur do to simple proximity and shared communication.   This type of research will only become more in-depth as new model of centers are created that combine more shared infrastructure, education, innovation, and commercialization services in a shared services model.    Also the trends to network these parks globally will change the ease and level for cross global collaboration and sharing of knowledge.   Not to mention accelerate the data and research possible in studying global innovation and business trends.    We will continue to watch the progress and research from these institutions and keep the dialogue open to review the new models for centers we are currently developing working with international teams.

Park Details:


  • 62 Companies (Accenture, Datacom, DBServer, Dell, HP, Instituto Eldorado, Microsoft, Parks, Stefanini, Technotag, ThoughtWorks, Tlantic/Sonae, TOTVS, )
  • 8 Institutions (ABINEE, Assespro, Softsul, Instituto Liberdade, Fundao Pensamento Digital, PMI, …)
  • 11 PUCRS Research Centers and PUCRS Operations (Nanotechnology Research Center, Molecular and Functional Biology Research Center , Solar Photovoltaic Research Center, Energy Radiation Research Center, Electric Energy Research Center, Carbon Storage Research Center, AGT, ETT, INOVAPUC, etc)
  • 3 PUCRS Operations (TECNOPUC, AGT and ETT)
  • RAIAR Incubator: 18 start-ups, all of them academic or research spin-off projects
  • More than 2,600 certified personnel (employees)


Academic Impact

  • 144 ongoing R&D Projects
  • 59 PUCRS researchers involved
  • 241 Master’s and PhD Scholarships (directly allocated in R&D projects)
  • 320 Master and PhD Scholarships (TECNOPUC research fund)


Innovation Discussions with Pentagon / DOD


I was one of twelve members invited to a meeting with a top innovation consultant at the Pentagon.    His mission was visiting cities in the USA meeting with innovation leaders and defense contract companies.  Both my work in innovation at Microsoft and the University of Minnesota provided rich content for the discussion.
The Pentagon / DOD is interested in several key topics:
  1. What are the current challenges and improvements that need to be made to the defense contracting processes to speed innovation
  2. How can the federal government say more plugged into innovations across all market sectors
  3. What are future trends in innovation from a corporate, government, and academic perspectives.
The initial topic delved deeper into the challenges MN defense contractors are having in the current system.   Much of the difficulty centered around funding programs not being efficient or timely enough to support the speed of business and innovation.  Many of the processes and systems are not well integrated and communication and feedback is poor throughout the process.
The second topic I presented on the work of developing innovation ecosystems and the best practices we where finding looking at innovation center development around the globe.   This model would provide both the portfolio level data of innovation by sector that could help map areas of federal programs to private sector advancements.   It would also proved a platform in which federal programs could fund prioritized areas of innovation through the network of centers & services they provide.
The discussion also included dialogue around future trends.   My role at Microsoft, as a strategy advisory, across so many companies and international projects provided me an opportunity to share many of the business and innovation practices I had scene in the past decade.   There are many cultural differences that span how innovation in both the public and private sectors.   Also is the nature of global business competition and the diversity of approaches and funding that other nations must explore in order to compete against today’s leading companies.   One of the key aspects is the work we are doing in the area of co-opition and how that model of collective innovation both accelerates the scale of innovation through support of a larger ecosystem of services, but also the competitive advantage individual companies still can attain while participating in more collaborative models.   Much of this discussion has factored into the designs of the future innovation centers and regional ecosystem models being current proposed for development in North America.
This was the beginning of a much larger dialogue that has continued with our initiatives as federal agencies.

Paris & Co – European Incubator


The Innovation Advisory Board facilitated introductions to several innovation centers around the globe.   I was able to talk to the center director of Paris & Co.    It is important to start with some context of the development of the innovation ecosystem in France and Paris specifically.  In 2008 ~ 2009 there was almost no startup activity or venture capital investment happening in Paris due to the global recession.  In partnership with the City of Paris, French Government, and philanthropic investors, an incubator was launched to start to organize the activities within the area in 2010.  They studied incubation models around the globe taking note of best practices and approaches.
Many accelerators and incubators began to launch featuring different models.   Their particular focus as a non-profit,  late stage incubator.  The start-ups had to be fairly mature in terms of organization and business plan with a product ready to take to market to enter their services.   Their incubation lasts for two 12 month cycles.   If a company completes the first cycle,  they are evaluated for a second cycle.
Their services include education, incubation and corporate services.   They both funnel start-ups to other incubators and their own.  What is of particular interest is they don’t take equity;  it is paired through fees, corporate memberships, and sponsors.
2014 performance:
– Incubated 200 startups for a total of 590 to date.  ( vs. 100 in mass challenge in 2014 )
– 78% survival rate
– Raised 85M(€) in VC capital
– Startups in incubation earned over $5.1M(€)
– Served 5300 employees of the start-ups
– Securing sponsors for events,  start-up, and student programs
– Corporation partnerships for corporate incubators
– Corporations don’t take equity at this early stage – its about access and deal flow.
– Corporations actively engage in with their portfolio bring a range of people, tech, and networks to support the maturation
– $7.5M dollar annual operations budget,  this budget is rapid growing annually as they expand in scale, numbers of incubators, events, employees, and services.   (Note:  that is about 43% public funding and 57% private, but the trend is rapidly shifting to private )
At the beginning of 2015:
– 10K-12K start-ups in Paris ( Note:  about 7K in NYC )
– They had grown to 10 separate incubator facilities, each focus on a specific area or topic.  i.e.:  Clean Energy,  Tourism, communication, Agri,  Mobility, High Tech, Media,  Video Games,  etc.
– They employee around 50 people across the 10 incubators and are growing in size and partnerships.
– Paris now has about 50 – 60 other incubators,  plus a large number of co-habitation and maker spaces
– Frequent events, contests, and hackathons
– Over $800M(€) annually in VC money in Paris compared to almost none in 2008
– A new 1000 start-up sized incubators are being planned for the city
– Creating a gravity to other countries to participate in their ecosystem.
Many of these practices and trends were mirrored in conversations with other cities/ countries on the proactive efforts to improve their innovation ecosystems.   Our research has been following the development and evolution of methods being applied and overall impact.
Many cities are still struggling to provide cohesive sets of service providers to cover the full life cycle innovation.   Many prefer to focus on late stage as the potential valuation of products is better, but the opportunity still exists for developing a much larger funnel of emerging startups to mature/fail/ pivot faster with less time and capital investments.   This increased scale of deal flow would attract more start-ups and investors to the regions.    It is also clear that the ecosystems are going to continuously and rapidly evolve from their current states.  What we are seeing today in most regions are the basic formation patterns of services and funding models.   These are great as an entry point, but will need to evolve to handle an increased scale of activity.   They will also need to address the complexity of lifecycle investment models to create a sustainable integration of services across providers.  Increase in cross-regional and international integration processes.
These conversations were both informative and conveyed the energy and excitement that is happening in regions around the world.

2015 3M SCPD Innovation Event


I attended the 2015 SCPD Innovation Conference hosted at the 3M innovation center.   This was a multi day event featuring a wide variety of speakers ranging from corporate innovation team,  innovation consultants,  start-ups, and methodologists.   This annual event was well attended as usual and had strong content and networking lunches.   One trend that really surfaced this year over the past few years was the progress and challenges corporate innovation teams have been facing over the past year.   This is encouraging in terms of the development of this networking event and attendees where able to connect with peers and consultants over common issue and best practices.   I hope to see this community continue to grow and I’m looking forward to the 2016 event.
See more event images in the gallery