Supporting The Next Innovation Generation

Sitting in a courthouse waiting for jury duty to begin, I was suddenly struck by something…

I’m using a laptop 10-times more powerful than the supercomputer I conducted research on 20 years ago at NCSA, wirelessly connected to a version of the Internet infinitely more powerful, diverse and capable than anything I could have imagined possible at the time and have enough stored energy to work all day on multiple Internet-connected devices.

One can only marvel at what can be done while seated in an uncomfortably hard plastic seat in a drab governmental room in time increments measured by presidential terms.

But what if this is just the beginning?

What if all we’ve done is start to build the foundations and the actual progress – the real value of innovation – has yet to even reveal itself? What if today is day 0, month 0, year 0 in the new calendar of innovation?

I think about culture-altering technologies like Tinder (yes, I know), Uber, Blue Apron and Slack (which we use at work and I adore) – services that emerged, seemingly out of nowhere, over the past few years. We seem to be entering a generation where the innovation, along with the associated cultural, economic and political disruption, creativity and power of the tools in our hands are greater than any other generation. And that pace shows no signs of decelerating (quite the opposite it seems).

Couple that to the massive growth in innovative communities outside of the traditional areas ranging from the old guard of the Bay Area to new and amazing communities in places as diverse as rural South Africa, Singapore and St. Louis. And I just see this trend increasing with ridiculous speed as we dash into the back half of the second decade of the 21st century – everywhere you turn, communities all over the world are taking long, hard looks at how innovation can breath new life into their daily lives – from new jobs, to better education, to new businesses and to (finally) entirely new cultures.

But that doesn’t mean we should sit by complacently and wait for that innovation to come. Those of us who live in these new innovative communities need to stand up and make sure our communities get all the support they need so that they can mature and foster these next generations of innovation. Indeed, we live in an immensely competitive world, with few boundaries and the weakest links locally will impact us globally. Successful ecosystems of innovation require passions, skills, financial resources and experience all harnessed together in a coordinated matter. Internal competitions in our communities make it harder for us to be globally competitive.

Local coordination is key.

That next generation of innovation is upon us and we need to push even harder to ensure that St. Louis takes its rightful place as one of the homes, one of the leaders, and one of the places most welcoming of that innovation.

The questions are:

  • Can St. Louis pull together to cohesively support that forthcoming innovation generation?
  • Can St. Louis be one of the homes of innovation when we get to year 2 of the innovation calendar?
  • And what can we accomplish together if we are one of those homes?

EQ Community Network articles are syndicated with permission from other publications and members of the local community.

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