The public sector has a critical role in helping to promote tech innovation and entrepreneurship. If communities (and their elected leaders) want high-value job growth, then help the startup companies that grow those jobs. With transitions afoot at the state and federal levels, here are a few questions for the newly-elected as well as those continuing in elected office. We need answers!
(a) Do you know any entrepreneurs? These are the folks creating the high-growth jobs. Do you know any? Not just the wildly-successful who are established players. But the college kids growing green tech out of the U. Or the design engineers leaving day jobs to build medical devices. You'll need their support when they're wildly successful. They need your help now.
(b) How many startups are in your district? They're out there. And they're going to put your district or region on the map - if you give them a chance. If you can't answer this question, let's talk.
(c) How does your job affect new business development? Yes, contrary to popular opinion, government has a vital role in supporting new enterprise. While if managed poorly, government can be a barrier, that's true of many community assets, people, organizations that could be otherwise optimized to help tech growth. Think about this everyday - how is what I'm doing helping building tech innovation and job growth?
(d) Name three features of a strong innovation economy. These are the signposts - what to look for and what to create (if you're having to look too hard). Here are a few: (1) good access to early-stage risk capital; (2) world-class research facilities; (3) a culture that understands risk and can manage it with zeal; (4) successful entrepreneurs giving back; (5) a willingness to market the amazing things already there. Keep adding to this list. It's just a start.
(e) What will you do to drive innovation and job growth in Minnesota? These are the specific things you will do - whether reaching out to startups to hear their needs, supporting tech- and innovation-friendly bills and/or administrative policies or putting the spotlight on the amazing companies in your district already off the launchpad.