Incubator Centers For Economic Development – New Business Model
Over the past few months, I’ve been working with a small team to come up with the perfect solution to provide jobs, economic development and keep the US on the leading edge of future technologies. We or I should say I, wrote up a quick business plan and gave it to our team to discuss. The incubator center would have multiple spaces for garage style innovators and home grown inventors inside of a large industrial building or aircraft hangar.
One interesting question which came up was; “If you lease facilities what type of businesses would be allowed?” The answer is mostly clean tech, as they are most likely to get funded. Each would be evaluated, some obviously are not possible, such as those which require clean rooms, although Phase V would have such a possible system based on the same basic plan; much more costly. Not interested in Hazmat type stuff due to dangers to other participants, although that could be possible for a future Phase V which could include; NanoTech, Military, etc. program.
Another point was made for a target market; “In a large city that would be attractive as its central,
housed under one roof,” and I said; Yes, precisely. 250,000 or more in population would be a target, you could draw from surrounding areas too.
Now then, we know everyone is into alternative energy, and energy efficient buildings, thus someone on the team asked me this question; “Concerning real estate – would you build or lease a suitable building?” The original unit would be leased, and we’d recommend leasing. Save money. But, if a city wanted to go full-on, they could, and that would provide jobs, LEEDs building, etc. You know grand opening, naming of the building, all the PR, and photo-ops. Obama style.
Next, I was asked; “Innovators, people who look at things differently and come up with a newer or better way of doing things: where do they fit?” The simulated “garage units” or squares might just have a computer, CADCAM, architectural model, etc, drawings, plans, etc. They’d have the ambiance to spur on their creative thinking, they’d be fine in this program. I expect that to 1/3 of the folks.
In addition; the local “Think Tank” would meet in the upper loft break room, coming up with ideas, concepts, innovations, new ideas, etc. Probably plant Olive Trees around the building.
One question was quite interesting about this project; “What type of people for this area? Do they meet to do what? A certain project or look at overall picture and find out ways to improve or stream line, the model. Not sure I fully understand.” Okay so, realize that it’s not just about the space involved, its about all of it; Innovation Center. It’s the place for all the innovators, thinkers, inventors, doers. For everyone who is a thinker and wishes to be involved, a place to meet.
Another think tanker stated something very interesting, an observation; “Universities: sponsor courses in certain areas like entrepreneurial initiative, would be interesting to run a business model like franchising into a course to teach people how to set up it up, what to do and so forth.” Well, the director would give speeches at the colleges, around town, really promoting innovation, explaining the program, what they were doing. Interestingly enough, our local universities have such programs.
Here is another point that was brought up during the last meeting of the minds; “I can see so many spin off industries that would benefit from a lot of this as so many companies are top heavy with management.” Good point indeed, and realize that the program would work because of the synergies, and the deal making behind the scenes to get these innovations to market, bought by corporate America, funded by angels, or perhaps even VCs. Owning 2% of 4 decent projects per year, makes up for those that fail. And yes, there will be failures, but knowing and accepting that upfront, makes it easier, and if those failing inventors re-invent themselves they can try again, or modify what they have. Yes, the “Spin-Offs” will be unbelievable affecting EVERY industry sector and as the money and capital flows so too will all the small businesses in the area and vendors to all these new companies.
One member stated; “Another consideration is would this come to all of North America eventually and then to other parts of the world with one central location with only satellites in other countries I can see how this would “rock” some governments and other businesses.” It very well could in the future, yes, indeed, this would revolutionize innovation forever. There would be copy companies too. But if innovation is your goal, then everyone wins. “Diplomacy is the art of letting other people get your way!”
When it came to economic development one person on the team noted; “What a huge capacity for expansion and wealth and just had a thought. You could actually have several franchises running from the same model but in specializing in different areas, not sure if that would work.” Yes, I agree. This is kind of how my mind thinks too. Industry Associations would love it as well. The trade journals would be all over it like flies on crap. It would be like a tornado once it got going.
One of the more inclined internet entrepreneurs in the group asked; “what about an affiliate model you have the product and then you get others to sell or market your product while giving them a slice off the profit.” I guess with that regard, you’d do whatever works. Any entrepreneur could use any distribution method they wished. And another comment from her was; “My understanding of a franchise model is that every location needs to have the same product, same quality, not a lot of latitude in the way its run, am I correct in assuming this?
Generally speaking, but if your product is providing “Innovation” then what type of innovation that was provided would hardly matter, some franchisees might want to take a clue from China’s cluster city concept, and just have innovations for Auto Industry, Aerospace, Material Sciences, Green Tech, etc. thus, they would not be directly competing with each other, but working together net-centrically. Anyway, yes, I think you are right.
A question on the franchise model was somewhat fascinating; “One type of franchise model IE: McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s etc… two of the more successful ones. As it’s a service industry, being in high traffic area is important, as i understand your thinking that wouldn’t be as important?” Well, not unless the Franchisee was a City, Economic Development Association, or University. It could very well be in an old hangar at a closed military base, or on a corporate campus industrial area in the back somewhere. Once inside, it would be an innovators playground. Imagine the creative flow.
Several people in the group noted that; “Once word gets out, people would be attracted to what you are offering and they would come to you – is this what you envision happening?” Yes, and it would be important not to sell the franchises until you had the bugs worked out. And there will be challenges and mistakes (read: opportunities) to be learned through trial and error, that’s fine.
Please consider all this.