Collaboration is a Critical Ingredient to Succeeding in the Innovation Economy

The science of economic development is changing everyday. I am calling it a science because there are some many ingredients and conditions that must be in place or have the realistic potential to being put into place for a company to choose your location over another. If the blend isn’t perfect than nothing will develop out of the very best marketing campaign.

One of the most critical ingredients is the willingness to collaborate. Everyone talks the talk but few actually walk the walk and even fewer are willing to invest upfront. In cities where the culture is older and more mature, they realize that time is a fungible commodity in the lifespan of a global city.  People come and go but the city lives on. They think about return on investments in infrastructure in 40, 50 and 100 year terms — not just today or in 3.5 years the average lifespan of political office in the US. The trains will wear out but the tunnel will be there forever barring a nature disaster like an earthquake.

Collaboration however, requires people to drop their guard and be willing to share resources, knowledge and experience with another — who are quite often viewed as a competitor for the same resources. Unlike business where the marketplace picks winners and losers and you see some uch action you learn to adjust your offering, academia and economic development professionals are always working with scant resources. In academia and ED circles they fight equally as hard to make sure their competitor doesn’t as they do to win!

Times are changing as cities\states are recognizing the need to create jobs from local university research. They are learning that it is a manageable risk to provide assistance for a new drug or device discovery, its nurturing and feeding to a point where the scale produces local jobs for its’ own citizens.

Cities that do more than talk about collaborate by actually investing in the clusters that are proven winners, are the cities that will excel in the future.

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