By Lance Winslow
Many countries are busy pouring money into R and D programs and yet, the United States, undeniably the most innovative and entrepreneurial nation in the world over the last century appears to be slipping a little, but one has to ask why? After all, with the abundance of freedom, liberty, and free-market capitalism it would seem that innovation should be a given, and automatic. This however is not how things work, the innovative spirit must be pushed, celebrated, and a population must be dedicated to that cause.
Thus, I'd like to put forth an idea which can be used locally in your area or any area to promote innovative new businesses for technology or green tech. Let's call this plan "The XXII Century - Privatized Innovation Plan for America - Using a Competitive Franchising Business Model" and this is something that perhaps your city, town, or region might start to look at in January 2010. The mission would be something simple, and here is a sample you might use:
Sample Mission Statement (you would need to modify this for your region):
We must propel innovation in the US and take our nation to the next level. We must restore America's number one slot as the greatest and most innovative nation on the planet. We will focus our intent and will on start-up concepts using an entrepreneurial, free-market, and competitive approach to advancing technology, science, inventions, design, and the best ideas we can find. We will assist our passionate inventors, entrepreneurs, and intellectual thinkers to push their concepts to the forefront. We will take this model and duplicate establishing our plan in every region of our nation, sparking the innovative thirst of future generations. We will lead the world and leave all other nations in the dust, period.
Basic Plan for a Regional Economic Development Association to Use:
Set up a large industrial building or aircraft hangar where 16 squares will be sectioned off. Bring in high-speed Internet, electricity, and lighting to each individual square. Each square becomes its own garage start-up. The end squares will have access to pneumatic tools and air for prototyping. Half of the units will have actual garage enclosures simulating a garage start-up in the literal sense of the concept. There will be an observation area loft over-looking the floor plan, which will serve as a break room, rest area, and additional research library like area with coffee, food, and conference area off to the side.
Outside will be a "play pen area" set up for robotic testing, prototype practices, and media demos. Various obstacles, stairs, jumps, simulated terrain.
Set up weekly meetings will take place in the loft, along with local economic development committees, Mayor's business round table, local think tank, Rotary Club or service club meetings, and angle investor's meetings.
Next, have offices and a lobby area outside the secured "Garage Start-up Cluster" area. In these offices will be a director and 2 assistants. There will also be four other components to assist the cluster. These will be the support team of for all 16 individual technology startups:
General Business Services (executive office rental type services):
Copy machine-scanning-printing, Secretary to answer phone calls during business hours, answering service, email accounts, fax machine, mail boxes, incoming package delivery, etc. Additionally; book keeping services will be available for the start-ups.
To help with non-disclosure agreements, initial patent filings, attaining ISBN numbers, help in locating outside lawyers for business contracts, arrangements, and to negotiate deals for the start-ups. Also basic assistance in setting up LLCs, partnership agreements, and help with background checks procedures (preventing spies). This department will handle simple things, the rest is to be sent out. Regulatory compliance monitoring; Hazmat materials, etc.
PR and Marketing Department:
Create press releases, Write Articles, newsletters, and stay in contact with media, innovation venues, and industry and continuing investor relations for the startups. Setting up investor day walk-thrus for VC, Angles, Investment Banks, Corporate R and D executives, Government and Political photo-ops. Help assistance in creating reports, and proofing research papers.
Vendor and Sponsor Relations:
Help in getting local companies and corporations around the country to give steep discounts on supplies, materials, and even donating items for the discreet prototyping process or to join a corporate sponsor.
Sample Fees and Costs to each new start-ups: You could choose a fair and equitable cost. Perhaps, start with something like; Ten Thousand for first six months and 2% of their innovation and business. After six months evaluation will be provided for another six months stay or new negotiated deal, or ejected from program with assistance to another incubator, commercial space, or help them transfer their concept to corporate R and D, military, government, university, or other.
Since space is limited each start-up must submit a business plan, outline, executive summary of their project. If they need assistance in the cost, we may refer them to an angle investor for a meeting at our facility. Every quarter or 6-months we will have business plan and concept contests and invite VC, angles, and investors to propel competitive innovation.
Sample Cost to set up Incubator Prototype Model: Estimated $1.2 million depending on location. Downtown areas obviously much more, rural or suburban areas are most likely more in line. Do not forget you will need 2-years expenses or four to five hundred thousand until cash flow catches up with expenses.
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It is my contention that a plan like this, which you highly modified to fit your locality and local needs for jobs, new technology businesses, clean industries, and promoting the future innovation of America, could possibly be just what you need to accelerate out of this recession and into the future. Perhaps, you will please consider this, and best of luck to you in your economic vitality in your region of our nation. Think on it.
By Lance Winslow