White House Budget Threatens Research & Innovation

WhitehousePresident Trump positions drastic cuts to Federal budgets that support innovation and research.  This has raised concern nationwide as government, university, and private sector voice objections to cuts.   Most critics are saying that innovation is central to the health and continued prosperity of the American economy.   While this story is just breaking,  federal budget announcements are now under critical scrutiny as many of today’s leading companies, programs, and regions rely on federal dollars to spur innovation.

FY17 Federal Regional Innovation Budget

Foerderberatung_E_340px_rdax_85The Federal Government announced a $17M dollar regional innovation budget for FY17.   This is up $2M from FY16.   State applications for grants are evaluated based on innovation and regional impact outlined in their proposals.   Of interest over the years have been the number of states that have won repeated grants due to sustained progress they keep making.   This creates a higher barrier for states new or unaware of the process as they have to compete against much more progressive states that have partnered with the Federal agencies for several years building out an innovation economy in their region.



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.

US / Australia – American Chamber Event

Hon. John Berry, US Ambassador to Australia
I had the opportunity to attend the American Chamber event with The Hon. John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to Australia.
The event was full and hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.   The focus of the event was to discuss American and Australia current relationship and explore opportunities for collaboration and business partnership.
Several US business representatives shared their success stories partnering with Australian companies.   The insights and motives for the partnerships all differed, but each saw strategic gains from their respective business case study they shared.
The speakers are highlighted on the agenda below:
The keynote was from Ambassador John Berry.   He opened with a personal story of his father’s WWII experience with the 1st Marine Division on Gradual Canal and his units deployment to Australia after that campaign.   The story told of the deep US / Australian alliance throughout WWII and set the stage of continued cooperation into today.  As my father also served in the 1st & 3rd Marine Divisions in WWII this was a great opportunity for me to talk with the Ambassador during the networking session of the event.  His presentation also outlined the strong cultural alignment between the two nations and the history of both government and business partnerships.   He commented on the business case studies and how they modeled what was possible.   He also emphasized on how Australia was, in many cases,  a better place for US businesses to begin going global and Australia’s strong ties to business connections in Asia as a good partner to help enter those markets.  Lastly, he emphasized Australia’s interest in investment in the USA.
This was a very strategic meeting for me in terms of making good connections with the both US chamber and trade organizations in both the USA and Australia.   The work I’m doing in developing innovation ecosystems today spans business, government, entrepreneurial and infrastructure investment opportunities.   Already this work is spanning investment partners from the USA, Europe, and Asia,  so the opportunities to build partnerships with Australia is great timing.
See more event images in the gallery