The broadband economy is an innovation-driven economy. Economist Robert Solow won the Nobel Prize in 1987 for proving that 80% of all economic growth comes from the development and use of technology. The spread of global and local connectivity has had a fundamental impact on the necessity for innovation, its speed and its economic value. Why?
- The first requirement for innovation is knowledge: of what customers want, of what other innovators are doing, and of what level of opportunity the market offers. Broadband has become the knowledge pipeline of the planet, making it possible for innovators to learn more faster than ever before.
- Another critical requirement for innovation is access to talent. Broadband has allowed both multinational companies and small business to efficiently tap the world's best and brightest.
- Innovation also requires access to markets. Broadband has made it far cheaper and easier to run a network of remote facilities or sales offices, to enforce standards of operation, branding and all the other factors in a successful marketing effort. And for innovators whose product can be marketed or delivered digitally, broadband opens the door to a global market.
Innovation is essential to the interconnected economy of the 21st Century. Intelligent Communities pursue innovation through a relationship between business, government and such institutions as universities and hospitals. The Innovation Triangle or “Triple Helix” helps keep the economic benefits of innovation local, and creates an innovation ecosystem that engages the entire community in positive change. Investments in innovative technology by government contribute to that culture and improve service to citizens while reducing operating costs.
Building Innovation Capacity
Creating, attracting and retaining knowledge workers are the most important steps a community can take to raise its innovation rate. Unlike traditional business as most of us conceive it, an innovative business is all about people.
In addition to building a knowledge workforce, Intelligent Communities focus on building the local capacity to innovate rather than achieving a few "big wins" in the business attraction game. Sustainable economic growth is no longer built on attracting the manufacturing facilities, R&D labs or distribution hubs of the world's biggest companies. Why? Because the world's biggest companies are not net creators of jobs. They have been shrinking in terms of total employment for decade.
Where do you look instead for local income growth? To new companies. In the 20 years between 1980 and 2000, all of the net growth in American employment came from firms younger than five years old. The US offers one of the world's friendliest economies for start-ups, but the same trend is visible throughout the industrialized world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Most small companies are not fast-growing. But a percentage of small businesses are what MIT researcher David Birch termed "gazelles" – nimble, aggressive start-ups with big ambitions hungry for the resources needed to achieve them. Successful "gazelles" throughout the industrialized nations create the income growth on which the rest of the local economy feeds. To empower them, communities should work to:
- Reduce the bureaucratic load. If your nation, state or province makes it difficult to start a business – as so many of them do – find out what your community can do to make it easier. Provide potential entrepreneurs with advice, help them with paperwork, even represent them before the various licensing and regulatory agencies. Convince local universities and technical schools to help entrepreneurs license technology on straightforward terms and develop progressive intellectual property policies. A community that makes it easier and faster to start and grow a business than its neighbors will enjoy a serious competitive advantage.
- Create a pipeline for talent. Improving the educational assets of a community is a big job, which can take years or even decades to bear fruit. But it takes far less time and effort to create a more effective "pipeline" through which local business can find the talent it needs. The work starts with talking to the significant employers in your community to learn what skills they need. From that point, communities conduct multi-faceted efforts to attract and channel talent to their employers.
- Expand access to funding. While slow-growing "income replacement" companies can fund themselves from cash flow, fast-growing "gazelles" need investment capital to realize their ambitious dreams.
The Role of E-Government
Governments may not directly create the business innovation that powers economic growth. But local government can play a powerful supportive role. In addition to the steps described above, Intelligent Communities also invest in e-government programs that simultaneously reduce their costs while delivering services on the anywhere-anytime basis that digitally savvy citizens expect.
E-government has an impact at the local level that is both subtle and complex. Leading by example, e-government raises the public's "digital awareness" and helps to create a more innovative culture that attracts leading-edge individuals and businesses. Money spent locally on IT products, services and support increases local demand for them. Effective e-government also signals to businesses and citizens that the community is a good destination for the "digiterati." In short, properly executed, e-government can do more than save money and improve service delivery. It can also become a robust economic development tool.
The World at GLOBE in Vancouver discusses ways to create Business Opportunities while Saving the Planet
Congratulations to the Intelligent Community of Vancouver! The GLOBE Leadership Summit in Vancouver from March 2-4 was an exceptional experience. Nearly two thousand business and government leaders from over 50 countries came together to network and advance global business and sustainability agendas in Vancouver. 200 thought leaders from around the world focused on issues regarding sustainability, urban resiliency and all things related to the future of the planet.Read more
The best acts of defiance are made in pursuit of a greater good. History is complete with tales of passive resistance, armed rebellions and legends of a person or group of dedicated souls who refuse to sell-out, cave-in or toss-down the towel, no matter how overwhelming the forces stacked against them or the depth of corruption from a perverse civil order. You and I honor the private inspirations in our lives who get us out of bed and roll us forward, somehow putting in us a deeper psychic mark and recalibrated moral settings. Those whose actions are given the stamp of the “heroic” or “visionary” after their time of persistence are seen to have been clearly on the right side of the cause, while most could only see through the glass darkly. They are, in the words of my father, not deliberate and intentional provocateurs, but people who simply “stuck by their guns.” At ICF we have 145 of them.Read more
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The countryside is in trouble. You know it. I know it. The United Nations says so. The share of the world’s population living in the countryside is shrinking as megacities grow. Opportunities for education and employment are shrinking with it, forcing bright kids to leave town to pursue their ambitions. The tax base erode, schools consolidate, services falter and stores close.Read more
There are some interesting developments happening in Winter Park, Florida. Established in the late 1800s as a winter haven for the wealthy of northern states, it is now a city of about 29,000 people in the Orlando metroplex.
Although it has a nice quality of life, relative affluence, other good aspects, etc., like every city, it faces its challenges. What makes it interesting is how the city is responding.Read more
The Technology Farm is an incubator located in a 72-acre apple orchard in Geneva, New York. It is a nonprofit joint venture among Cornell University, the city of Geneva and the State of New York, which aims to create, retain and expand technology-based businesses focusing on agriculture and foodstuffs. Opening with 3 tenants and one lab in 2005, it now is home to 10 emerging businesses operating in two labs and four production facilities. It represents a successful effort to translate that university-business dynamic, which has powered the success of places from Taipei and Sophia Antipolis to Cambridge and Silicon Valley, into a rural economy. Startups and incubators are part of the charisma of these places, and the Tech Farm has transplanted them to a setting of rural beauty and fecundity.Read more
Intelligent Community Forum searches the world’s successful communities for solutions to help rebuild American prosperity
New York, NY - February 26, 2013 – As U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address, “there are communities in this country where no matter how hard you work, it’s virtually impossible to get ahead.” In support of the President’s challenge to “build new ladders of opportunity”, the Intelligent Community Forum is offering five ways U.S. communities can seize their destinies to attract and retain high-value 21st century American jobs.Read more