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Making your City an Innovation Hub

Point: Business and communities can create a talent-attracting virtuous circle

Story: McKinsey & Co. partnered with the World Economic Forum to evaluate what makes a given region an “innovation hub.” McKinsey analyzed 700 variables and summarized the results in “Building an Innovation Nation.” Despite the report’s title, the principles apply to business and city regions as well.

The single common factor that drives innovation across all sectors is the availability of a well-qualified talent pool. Talent attracts talent, creating a reinforcing success cycle.

Let’s look at Boulder, Colorado to see these principles in action. Boulder is #1 in the nation for software engineers per capita. The tech community thrives largely due to the efforts of volunteers who organize regular meetings that let technologists find & talk with each other. Here are five examples. First, Rob Reich’s Boulder Denver New Tech monthly meet-ups are among the largest, attracting upwards of 350 technologists and entrepreneurs. The meetings feature presentations by new and emerging tech companies, who describe their business models and demo their software/products. Brian Tsuchiya’s Startup Entrepreneurs is another monthly meet-up, giving very early-stage entrepreneurs a chance to practice their pitch to a smaller audience and get feedback on their pitch & plan. Andrew Hyde’s Ignite Boulder events bring the community together in lighthearted events that are then livestreamed and archived. His Startup Weekend began in Boulder and is now in dozens of cities. Jeremy Tanner organizes unconferences like PodCamp Boulder. TechStars provides seed funding, office space to mingle and mentors from whom to learn. Local venture capitalists like The Foundry Group are active in sharing their insights through Boulder Open Coffees, presentations at Silicon Flatirons and mixers like StartUp Drinks. Local businesses like PR firm Metzger Associates are regular sponsors of many events. At all of these events, companies looking to hire and candidates looking for jobs can announce their presence.

Action: Help specialists in your community find each other through mixers and events. Create public calendars (such as Andrew Hyde’s Boulder.Me) to let everyone know about upcoming events. Share highlights of past events to give newcomers a flavor of them (see Rocky Radar and w3w3 Talk Radio). Participate in these events to find potential new hires and new business opportunities. Emphasize the resource-matching and idea cross-pollination opportunities of these events.

Ignite Boulder Feb 2009 ?Stepan Mazurov

Ignite Boulder Feb 2009 by Stepan Mazurov

5 Comments »Entrepreneurs, How-to, Innovation, Opportunity