FEDA / Harvard Cluster Studies Follow Up


I had a follow up to the Cluster Analysis kick off hosted at the UMN last September 2014.  Joining me on the call was the MN Director of innovation and we where exploring partnership opportunities around the collection of economic data in both the public data and innovation space.   My particular interest was in capturing addition data around innovation centers the full lifecycle of start-up maturation on a regional level.   Though partnerships with centers and through integration with public data sources  we could get a level deeper in the economic activity happening in the corporate and entrepreneurial areas.  By building on the standards already set forth in the cluster analysis we hope to define the next level of data in this area so that all regions could capture data consistently for analysis.   We are looking to develop analytics for the health and activity within clusters around the time, cost, and progress made by start-ups and corporate innovation initiatives.  The innovation centers provide a great base where much of this activity is happening and can be one of key sources of data for the overall model.   I’ve been working with economist and other data analytics specialists to develop economic data models to this end and identifying the public, private, and NGO data partnerships that could provide valuable in a integrated data capture strategy.




The Future of Business Competition Event


On 12/09/14 The Carlson School of Management hosted a regional event focused exploring on major regional activities where underway in support of Minnesota remaining competitive in business globally.   I was one of the featured speakers during the morning session.  The event attendees included a wide variety of government, academic, corporations, that had gathered to participate in the speaker sessions and collaborative breakout workshops.
MN Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie
Mark spoke on a number of topics that gave a overview on the health and momentum Minnesota had in areas of leading industries,  growth areas,  international brand,  international trade, and government programs.   He also spoke to challenges regarding education, attracting talent,  retaining talent, and global competition.   He ended with and update on the potential for Minnesota to host the 2023 World’s Fair and the impact that could make for the region.
CEO, Joe Sperber
Joe spoke about global trends in economic development and transportation.   He discussed regional and national efforts to develop high speed rail systems in North America.  The global partnerships that would be involved in such a large scale effort.   Key areas of the country that where already moving forward.  What the impact would be in Minnesota and the role it could play in regional integration.
CEO, Glenn Ford
Glenn spoke to his initiative called Praxis Market Place.   This is focused on community development,  training, jobs, and qualify of life.  A major component is built around urban farming and cross integrating business in the ecosystem to exchange resources in a wholistic manner that helps drive each other business.   The net result is a thrive community, economy, and a wide range of learning and job options for people in the community.   Build strong communities, lifestyles, and business collaboration for the good of the region is critical in being an attractive and success region in which one can build towards competitive differentiation.  His initiative is already gaining traction in other cities and he would be interested in launching in Minnesota as well.
Chief Innovation Officer, David Williams
I spoke to global business trends and methods of how foreign companies are partnering and investing to be competitive.   Working at Microsoft as a strategy advisor,  I had the opportunity to work with companies and start-ups from around the world on innovation projects. I addressed the challenges companies have competing in both established markets and against the large and established companies leading those markets.  We talked about strategies around disrupting markets or creating shifts to new markets.   For international companies that are emerging,  they have to use different tactics around investing and partnerships to compete in new ways against established competitors.   I also covered trends in regional development happening around the globe as cities create new and integrated education systems,  innovation centers, and industry parks that create platforms for their industries to compete on new levels.   We also discussed similar efforts in North America to learn from these models.   I presented the work I was doing at the UMN studying these new models and working with local corporations forming and advisory board to see how MN could build similar assets and services for a competitive platform for companies and start-ups to benefit from.
Workshop Session:
After the speakers concluded and a active Q&A session,  the audience moved into break out sessions to participate in exploring the opportunities and topics presented.  Separate teams dove into the following areas before coming back together to share insights with the full audience:
  1. What are our strongest assets regionally
  2. What assets do other regions have globally
  3. What could our global brand grow to be
  4. What gaps do we have regionally / What needs to be done
  5. What is the key to connect to resources in the ecosystem
The break out teams reconvened after the break out to share insights and approaches around each area discussed.   Open dialogue and ideation where abundant.   This event was launched to kick off a transformation event series that would continue to drive towards linking current initiatives, stakeholders, and advisory groups to achieving goals toward keeping Minnesota competitive and developing our brand globally.

Meeting with MN State CTO

MN.IT LogoAs a follow up to my meeting with the State CIO,  I was introduced to the Minnesota State CTO, Ed Valencia, to present an overview of the North Star Iniative for building Innovation Centers in Minnesota.  This meeting was exceptional in the level of advice and coaching towards working with State Government and key contacts to engage with.  Alignment over data created synergy for future pilot projects around public data.  Looking at next steps.  I will be meeting with MN DEED and Greater MSP in the coming months to share details of the initiative and see what level of interest exists for collaboration.


Visiting MN Secretary of State Office

SOS IMG_0459I continued the on going dialogue around Innovation Centers with the Minnesota Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie, at his office in St. Paul.  We discussed key networking aspects around supporting the North Star Iniative to build support for starting several cluster focused centers in Minnepolis.   Some of the conversation included:
  1. Creation of a corporate advisory board.   This group would be comprised of innovation leaders of regional companies and talk about the actual model of center operations and funding structures.   This group would support and vest the research being collected until actual operational and governance boards would be formed around specific centers.
  2. Working with state agencies and corporate venture groups to identify which potential sectors would benefit from clusters focused centers.   This conversation is as simple as picking the major clusters we have, but to understand which are so mature that they wouldn’t benefit as much or those that are fading as we lose our advantage.   Other considerations are around which sectors we are growing in and could have an emerging cluster.  We may have emerging clusters that are horizontally centered, but that makes it hard to bring clusters to align to support them.   The balance may be around finding intersects of sectors to horizontal industries.  That could leverage the financial strength of the sector with the emerging opportunity of horizontal but retaining a clear focus.
  3. Looking around the globe at academic institutions that are leading in business and entrepreneurial programs and services.  This would have to transcend ideas of simple classes or student based concepts and be more aligned with actual business and venture spaces.     We had reworked with a number of global players who where doing actual international business and commercialization.    The best programs where heavily infused with corporate and venture practitioners with real experience and ability to apply knowledge.   It also demonstrate the best programs where built with a network of academic and corporate partners based on the focus of the centers.
  4. Minnesota already has some new companies that are leading efforts in pioneering new educational models.  New models of educaiton blend learning with working in industry directly.   This closes the enormous gap between school and work integrating them together.   It redefines the academic buzz word “experiential learning” to  learning and doing for real.   It redefines today’s concepts of short internships to full time internship is at the core of the DNA.   It also promotes the idea of life long learning as a key part of everyones profession and work and education are always continuing together.   Innovation Centers provide a cross roads for all of these to converge where students, start-ups, professional are all working and learning together.   Students are spending time at school, industry, and in centers.   Professional are teaching, mentoring, and staying up to date with the latest tech and trends.
  5. The formation of international exchange corridors is key to establishing a global brand and capitalizing on the innovations happening around the world for competitive advantage.   We had worked with a number of centers and academic programs that where already piloting cohorts of international companies to USA based centers.  These two way bridges between centers helped integrate clusters at a global level and would be key to overall model.
  6. Cluster ecosystems.   Given large USA companies have many of the capabilities for international business, partnerships, and commercialization they still are key players and leaders at the centers.    If a start-up on the other side of the world has a technology that could disrupt a large companies core business it is a priority for them to understand the situation.  For each large company that is either innovative or being disrupted, there are potentially thousands of small and medium sized businesses that can be impacted and the collaboration of the cluster ecosystem is essential for the sustainability and alignment of strategic direction.   Leadership is not just innovation or opening new markets, but is in leading and growing the overall ecosystem..
Next steps included identifying key introductions to continue to build the network working on the initiative.

MN State CIO Meeting

MN.IT Logo

I was recently a co-speaker at the KPMG Innovation Council along with the Minnesota State Director of Innovation James Kauth.   Our presentations both talked about data initiatives underlying economic development.   This lead to a follow on meeting with the Minnesota State CIO Carolyn Parnell.   I was able to present the full scope of the North Star Initiative to create innovation centers and highlighted to opportunities of building a data portfolio covering all aspects of the innovation process and sector activities.
There was good synergy between the state’s initiatives to make more sources of public data available via apis to drive innovation and see what creative ideas could be generated with the new data sources.   The data the innovation centers would both enrich that base of public data and we could see direct mapping opportunities liking data around corporate employee and revenue growth to companies involved with the innovation centers over the long term.   This would provide more data and insights into which sectors in the region where both innovating and prospering and help attract more interest to the region.
Finding grant support for fund a pilot to integrate the data platforms would be a key next step.

MN Secretary of State Visit to Carlson School of Mgmt

DW presenting NorthStarI 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.

Economic dev galleries:

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