A Look at the Future of Work

Intuit has just released The Intuit 2020 Report. It covers twenty demographic, social, economic and technology trends impacting consumers and businesses over the next decade. The report, co-authored by Steve King and Carolyn Ockels of Emergent Research (and also Future of Work Associates), started as part of Intuit’s strategic plan process.

Emergent Research worked with Intuit to develop these trends as input to a ten-year visioning exercise Intuit did as part of its own annual planning. Because Intuit realized the trends would of be interest to Intuit customers, partners, and others the company decided to release the report to the public.

Download the report


November 1, 2010 at 4:35 am Leave a comment

Teaching Entrepreneurship @ the High School Level

How do you teach entrepreneurship to high school juniors? In only one hour?

Read this article by Rocco Tarasi in Pittsbrugh.

“I had the privilege this summer of speaking for an hour to students at the Neighborhood Academy, a college prep school in Pittsburgh for low-income students, about being an entrepreneur. “Being an entrepreneur” is certainly a broad topic, and you could choose to focus on a number of different areas. I decided that I would have three goals: make it simple, make it inspiring, and make it practical.

So when I was considering what topics to cover, I stayed away from the “administrative nuts and bolts” of being an entrepreneur – accounting, taxes, legal, HR, etc. Not that those aren’t important activities, but they certainly weren’t going to meet my 3 goals. I also chose not to talk about the “psychological” aspects of being an entrepreneur – making mistakes, keeping the faith, the highs and lows, the importance of working with strong teammates, etc.”

To read the full, original article click on this link: Blogging Innovation » How do you teach entrepreneurship to high school students?

October 29, 2010 at 10:30 am Leave a comment

Seven Steps to Developing an Economic Gardening Implementation Strategy

This article is an excerpt from the InFocus issue, Strengthen Your Local Economy through Economic Gardening, by Christine Hamilton-Pennell, published by ICMA.

Economic gardening is an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within. Its premise is that local entrepreneurs create the companies that bring new wealth and economic growth to a region in the form of jobs, increased revenues, and a vibrant local business sector. Economic gardening seeks to focus on growing and nurturing local businesses rather than hunting for “big game” outside the area.

Preparing a strategy for an economic gardening program can be complicated-there are many elements that must be developed first, taking into consideration unique community needs and available resources. Here are the seven steps to developing an implementation strategy for your economic gardening program to succeed.

1.     Gain the support of local officials and other stakeholders – It takes time and effort to develop the support of elected officials for an economic gardening approach. The first step is to sit down with each official and other key stakeholders and listen to their concerns about economic development.

2.     Identify your community’s assets – Develop an inventory of community and business assets available to you. Your list of assets should include the usual suspects such as economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, small business development centers (SBDCs), SCORE, workforce centers, universities and community colleges, financial institutions, and civic and social groups such as Rotary and Kiwanis. Other groups and individuals can also provide value to your community.

Look for individuals in your community who have skills and expertise in areas such as business coaching and mentoring, finance, employment/workforce development, research, marketing, meeting facilitation, organizing/managing projects, public speaking, legal support, and fundraising.

Perhaps the most important assets you can identify in your community are individuals who can become champions and advocates for your economic gardening project. They might be successful entrepreneurs who want to give back to their community or individuals within any of the groups or organizations listed above.

3.     Develop a collaborative effort among resource partners – Once you have identified the assets in your community, explore which entities and individuals are likely to become resource partners in moving your economic gardening venture forward. Set up a steering committee that can guide and implement the project.

4.     Create a system-wide operating agreement – Because an economic gardening project generally involves multiple entities, it is important for the steering committee to develop a formal or informal operating agreement that addresses key operational and long-term planning issues.

5.     Determine the target audience for services – One of the most important questions an economic gardening project needs to answer is, “Who will we serve?” The first step in determining your target audience(s) is to inventory the available entrepreneurial talent in your community. What kinds of businesses are located there? What is their level of growth or maturity?

6.     Develop a delivery system to provide services to the target audience – Steps involved in creating a viable delivery system include finding or developing qualified business coaches, providing or linking to technical assistance resources, locating entrepreneurs within your target audience, offering market research services, identifying financial resources, and partnering with other providers within and outside the local area. A local referral network of small business professionals and service providers is a crucial element at this juncture.
7.     Develop a communication system to gain community support and buy-in – Make public presentations explaining the economic gardening program and gain the support of local media. Use entrepreneurs and your local referral network as advocates to deliver your message to funders, prospective clients, and the public. Build regular reporting functions into your ongoing activities.

October 27, 2010 at 7:53 am Leave a comment

Will the Biomedical-Research Bubble Burst? By Lior Shamir

This article appeared in the Chronicle on Higher Education on October 17, 2010.

The United States still reels from the aftermath of the financial crisis. Many of us in the biomedical-research community, meanwhile, fear that our field may face a recession of its own in the not-too-distant future.

Reminiscent of the dot-com crash of the previous decade—and, indeed, of today’s financial crisis, mainly precipitated by the implosion of the subprime-loan market—biomedical research is endangered by its precarious position atop a bubble of unsustainable financial practices. The unrestricted grant-making policies of the National Institutes of Health inflate the number of biomedical researchers in a fashion that cannot be matched by the availability of research funds and might eventually lead to a shortage of financial support for biomedical research.

The trouble begins with how lead scientists must often scrounge for money to keep their research programs alive. Grantees’ home institutions—that is, universities and research institutes—typically pay principal investigators’ salaries and start-up costs for a limited period of time, after which the lead scientists are expected to attract external backing that will cover their programs, including their salaries. Such a system allows universities and research institutions to hire more scientists and expand their research at little cost to the institutions themselves, while enhancing their own reputations and academic prestige. The system also provides universities and research institutions with a financial benefit: Overhead charges are deducted from grants raised by principal investigators. Thus, universities and research institutions have strong incentives to open ever-increasing numbers of such tenuous, grant-dependent, “soft money” tenure-track lines.

Enter the NIH—the primary agency that supports fundamental biomedical research in the United States—and other organizations, which provide money not only for materials, equipment, and stipends for research assistants, but also for the salaries of principal investigators once their start-up money has run out.

While the NIH Data Book does not provide detailed information about the increase in principal-investigator positions supported by NIH awards, the trend is nonetheless evident by the applications for career-development grants, which provide salaries for young investigators. The number of applications for these awards increased from 1,029 in 1997 to 3,340 in 2007. The success rate was consequently reduced from 51 percent to 31 percent.

Such an unbalanced incentive for universities and research institutes to continually bring new researchers onboard depends on the assumption that new money will keep getting into the system and that the flow of new money will satisfy ever-increasing growth. That, however, is rarely the case, whether one is dealing with start-up Internet companies, the subprime-loan market—or scientific research. In fact, the flexibility of the NIH budget and its potential growth are highly limited, as the NIH budget has been flat since 2003.

Because of the relatively low costs involved in opening “soft money” faculty positions, as well as institutional lust for expanding research and getting a larger piece of the NIH budget, it is expected that an increasing number of new, externally paid faculty positions will open and put increasing pressure on the NIH’s extramural funding. This is the money that the NIH gives to research institutions and universities to support studies conducted outside of the institute.

Obviously, any future increase in available NIH funds is limited, so the inevitable result of this unbalanced growth is that, in the long term, the NIH will no longer be able to keep up with the demand for soft-money principal-investigator positions. Studies will run short on funding, research centers and laboratories will close, and scientists, research assistants, and support-staff members will lose their livelihoods.

To avoid such a recession in biomedical research, universities, research institutions, and the NIH must work together to ensure that any growth in the number of principal-investigator positions reflects the predicted growth in available financial resources.

One solution is to change the NIH’s grant-making policy to require that a principal investigator’s salary—or at least a substantial part of it—be paid for by the investigator’s home institution. The National Science Foundation has already adopted such a policy, providing no more than two months’ salary for a P.I. per year.

Clearly, if adopted by the NIH, such a policy would reduce the number of positions offered by universities and research institutions, slow down the growth in the number of available P.I. positions, and further increase the pressure on the academic job market.

But the upside is that universities and research institutions, if forced to bear the financial burden of hiring and paying investigators themselves, would plan their hiring strategies far more carefully. Because an investigator without funds for materials and research assistants is of little use, home institutions would also be forced to consider the present and future availability of research grants. That extra consideration, in turn, would ensure a better balance between the aspirations of universities and research institutions, and the ability of the NIH to subsidize those ambitions.

October 26, 2010 at 7:31 am Leave a comment

Young Entrepreneurial Stories, Starting in College

This article talks about paying attention to budding entrepreneurs early–in college. This is one of the compelling reasons why Snohomish County must land or create a four-year university in the future.

New York University seniors Katie Shea and Susie Levitt were interning at Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup-Smith Barney when their sore feet inspired them to start a $10,000 dorm-room company selling foldable flat shoes that come in their own tote bag. A year later they have imported 70,000 pairs from China that retail for between $10 and $25. Women can don the slipper-like footwear to hike or drive to the office in comfort, then switch back to their high heels when they arrive at work.

Inspired by Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook as a sophomore at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., and stymied by the shortage of jobs in the recession, college students are launching businesses before they graduate. They’re entering industries that previously required large investments, thanks to websites that offer help with manufacturing, inventory management, and accounting, says Dane Stangler, a project manager with the Kauffman Foundation, a Kansas City (Mo.) nonprofit organization that promotes entrepreneurship. Read the article here.

October 24, 2010 at 11:14 am 1 comment

Great Lakes Region Can Become the National Leader in the Next Economy

Brookings’ researchers contend that the U.S. region worst hit by the Great Recession has the potential to spearhead the U.S. towards a Next Economy. Unlike the U.S.’ old economy, which was driven by highly-leveraged, domestic consumption, the Great Lakes region can build an export-oriented economy, powered by a low-carbon energy strategy and driven by innovation that benefits all Americans. The report outlines the many resources that can position the Great Lakes region as an economic leader. They include global trade networks, clean energy/low carbon capacity and innovation infrastructure. The report also highlights the challenges faced by the region due to its declining economic health. To achieve this economic transformation, the region will have to address the deficient transportation infrastructure for trade, the concentration of energy-intensive industries, the lack of seed capital and the low educational attainment levels. The report provides three key Next economy drivers that will help federal, state and metropolitan leaders to maximize the region’s promise.

The report outlines the many resources that can position the Great Lakes region as an economic leader. They include:

Global trade networks: Many of region’s cities rank among the top cities in terms of the share of their metro output that is exported;

Clean energy/low carbon capacity: Their blue-green potential due to the Great Lakes, waterways and abundant natural wind/solar resources position the region well in renewable energy generation; and

Innovation infrastructure: The region’s metros are home to 21 of the 32 major public and private research universities, which attract substantial federal research investment. Each year almost 36% of all U.S. science and engineering degrees come from schools in the region. The region also registers almost 33% of all U.S. patents.

These strengths provide the region with opportunities that are necessary to achieve success in the Next Economy. However, the research indicates that these strengths must work in a coordinated effort to achieve that success.

The report also highlights the challenges faced by the region due to its declining economic health. To achieve this economic transformation, the region will have to address the deficient transportation infrastructure for trade, the concentration of energy-intensive industries, the lack of seed capital and the low educational attainment levels. To resolve these challenges, the report provides three key Next Economy drivers that will help federal, state and metropolitan leaders to maximize the region’s promise:

  • Invest in the assets that matter: innovation, human capital, and infrastructure: Even though budget cuts have become a regular occurrence, the researchers argue, Long-range economic health is not just a matter of spending less, but spending and investing to spur growth. The region should concentrate its efforts on developing regional innovation clusters, instituting workforce development at community colleges and smart spending on infrastructure to facilitate trade.
  • Devise new public-private institutions that are market-oriented and performance-driven: Government leaders should be prepared to go to voters to support bond issues or dedicated tax sources for these institutions. They also can consider reorganizing money from programs and systems that are underperforming. These institutions include new infrastructure banks, advanced manufacturing labs, regional energy research and innovation centers and a venture capital fund of funds.
  • Reimagine metros’ form and governance structures to set the right conditions for economic growth: To achieve growth and innovation, cities and states must overhaul their physical redevelopment strategies and local governance structures in the Great Lakes region due to their significant population and economic declines. They must focus on right-sizing communities, green development and infrastructure and governance reform.

Read the Report

October 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

Canadian Government Launches $50M Entrepreneurship Initiative

Recent graduates and grad students will have access to new resources aimed at helping them launch high-tech businesses and commercialize new technologies under the Government of Canada’s new Scientists and Engineers in Business Initiative. The program will award $50 million over four years to nonprofit organizations, including postsecondary institutions, to provide business skills development, such as training workshops, and seed financing or advisory support services to entrepreneurs pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics endeavors. The idea is to improve the success rate of startup companies in southern Ontario by helping entrepreneurs develop business and management skills. Read the press announcement. Maybe Concentrus Inc. should offer to work with these Canadian companies in getting a foothold in the U.S. market. Read more here.

October 23, 2010 at 6:26 am Leave a comment

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