Innovation and the Business Ecosystem


A recent Wall Street Journal article titled “How to Fire Up U.S. Innovation”  addressed some of the challenges associated with establishing and sustaining innovation in the United States.  Specifically, known as a leading hub for the American high-tech sector, Silicon Valley has become synonymous with innovation; a complex blend of industry, academia, and capital investment – an “ecosystem.” 

Reminiscent of science class field trips to the ponds of New England, the term, ecosystem, describes the complex set of relationships that exist among the resources, habitats, and residents of an area, and, that a healthy ecosystem is one that is sustainable, and diverse, able to support a wide variety of members. 

A business ecosystem is analogous to that which is found in nature, and, as in nature the ability to attract, support, and sustain the types of resources, habitats, and residents necessary for a healthy ecosystem is both challenging and fragile given the level of interdependency. 

What does a thriving business ecosystem require? Seamless integration between academia and industry, a pipeline of students with strong technical and engineering skills, venture capital to fuel innovation, enlightened legislative and fiscal policy to attract new businesses, and quality of life factors such as the arts, entertainment, great schools, and communities that attract and retain talented people. 

Historically innovative, and a beacon to the world’s talent, the United States at the national, regional, and local levels must continue to ensure that business ecosystems such as the Silicon Valley don’t just exist as anomalies, but as part of who we are. 

Here in Kansas, organizations such as ThinkKC, SITAKS, KTEC, Pipeline, and KansasBIO, for example, each individually have their targeted missions, however, it is the broader synergy created through their collective actions where success will be realized… 

A sustainable and diverse business ecosystem that is a unique combination of Silicon Valley innovation and Midwest values.

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