At the Greater Baltimore Committee’s recent Economic Outlook Forum – which focused entirely on our innovation community – I ended my comments by focusing on five challenges we need to overcome to fully realize the potential of our innovation community. In last week’s column, I shared five bits of good news about our region. To recap the good news:
First: Baltimore is great as Baltimore. We don’t need to become Silicon Valley or Austin or Boston, we need to be Baltimore. Greater Baltimore is increasingly placed well in a number of national surveys reflecting the vibrancy of our innovation community and a positive measure of the assets and resources we have.
Second: We have strengths and we need to play to them. We have emerging industries – including ed tech, cyber, gaming, mobile apps, advertising tech, medical devices, and biotech – that should get all of our support.
Third: There are Leaders of the Community Appearing. They’re just not found in our traditional business networks.
Fourth: Our geography gives us an edge.
Fifth: Both the University of Maryland and Hopkins are tuning in. Many in the innovation community have long complained that our flagship academic institutions haven’t been the leaders in driving business formation but that’s been changing.
The Five Challenges. As with my arbitrary list of good news, there are more than five challenges facing the long term success of our region’s innovation community, but here are the five that come to my mind:
First: We need more entrepreneurs
As a recent Abell report comparing Greater Baltimore to Boston indicated, “we need to create, find or hire more entrepreneurs”. In the end nothing else matters. Without entrepreneurs, you don’t have an innovation community. It’s that simple. In some measure, this takes time for companies to mature and talent to gain experience. But it also requires mentors and constant effort to keep the talent we have and attract others here.
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