Sunday, September 11, 2005

Regionalism and the Southeastern Innovation Corridor

At the end of InnoVenture 2004, one of the venture capitalists attending gave us an "A" for energy, enthusiasm, and collaboration, but a charitable "D" for the quality of the companies seeking venture capital. She said she was looking for "a pipeline of emerging companies with game changing innovations."

To do that we needed to target a region with a critical mass of innovation and talent. For InnoVenture 2005, we defined to target geography as the Southeastern Innovation Corridor - from Birmingham to Research Triangle Park and from Oak Ridge to Charleston. In this region are 2 national labs, 16 research universities, and 23 million people. The critical mass of innovation and talent in this region is competitive on a global basis.

Too often we force economic development into political boundaries that don't match up with our natural business relationships. The politics ought to follow the market, not the other way around.

I was struck recently when I read a invitation from the Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial Network inviting people to attend a regional meeting.
There is a very good chance your most profitable prospect may be headquartered in Hickory.

The maverick you need for the new marketing push is based in Matthews.

The winning technology you need to license is in Wilmington.

The strategic partner you need to turbocharge growth is already aggressively attacking your niche from Apex.

But you will never know if you restrict yourself regionally?

The Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial Network is on the right track.

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