Business Research Essentials: Regional Innovation Centers
In 2011 the U.S. Department of Commerce was tasked, in consultation with the National Economic Council, by the President of the United States to create a report about the state of innovation in the U.S. ” The competitiveness and innovative capacity of the U.S.” was the result. The report is about 160 pages long, with many graphs and cover pages.
At its core its a standard government report, used by the administration to support its policies, however it still has some insights. The report identifies three areas, called “pillars”, in which government investments are essential; federal support of basic research, education and infrastructure. The report focuses on how the federal government should invest in basic research as private companies are not inclined to do so, how STEM education investments are essential and how improving infrastructure will benefit commerce. The benefits of these investments are rarely debated, discussing where the funds to do so will come from is hotly debated. Regional Innovation Centers are not central to the report, they are briefly discussed, however they are essential in fostering both innovation and small business creation.
Regional Innovation Centers (RICs) are geographic areas in which particular industries are clustered. Some examples include the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in the Dan River Region of Virginia focusing on research and STEM education and the Joint venture Silicon Valley Network, focusing on IT. RICs are important because its a mutually supportive environment for businesses, companies in the area depend on each other for growth and the success of one can mean future growth for others. The links between small businesses and RICs should occur in the Small Business Development Centers. Most land grant public universities have some sort of relationship with a RIC, and most of the innovations created at the university are funneled directly into the RIC for commercialization. Having a good relationship with a local SBDC office is an excellent business strategy for any small business. First it will assist any small business owner in understand how the business fits into the local ecosystem and the terms of entry to the larger RIC community. Secondly almost all small businesses struggle with R&D due to its cost, tapping into a network of businesses who spread the risk and costs of research allows small business owners to reap the rewards without bearing all of the costs.
Maintaining a small business in operation is difficult enough, when an opportunity to reduce both costs an risks is encountered it shouldn’t be passed.