JBS Group, Business Advisory Services

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Investment In People and Innovation; The Essential Element For Progress

I realize that I set this blog up to present insights into the electronic transactions space but I was reading an article on the need for investment in people, technology and infrastructure and I felt that it was so important that I make a mention of it on this blog. Here is the quote I was most impressed with and the link to the article:

"Declining nations glory in their past accomplish­ments because their future looks so bleak. Rising nations become great by looking to the future, investing in their people and their infrastruc­ture, and taking risks."
Michael R. Honig

The article is focused on the USA but it applicable to all countries and all investment vehicles.

Investment in people and new technologies can be a risk. But the potential rewards far outweigh the risks and the results of not investing are assured. The US government does not invest in new technologies and start-up companies and the results can be seen as the US falls behind most other nations in innovation. The EU claims to invest in start-ups and new technologies but they make the process so difficult, bureaucratic and restrictive that most entrepreneurs either give up trying or never even start. The country that does put its money behind its policies is Israel. There innovation is thriving.

For many perceived reasons, traditional venture capital firms and other private investment organizations are extremely cautious about investing in pre-revenue start-ups or they do not invest in them at all. I think about how many fantastic inventions or processes never get beyond an inventor's basement because of a lack of funding.

A solution? Well, the one I advocate is that governments establish an investment fund for innovation. This fund has a mixed strategy, equity investments in pre-revenue start-ups and grants for entrepreneurs. The fund is managed by entrepreneurs who have proven themselves to be imaginative, open, business savvy and insightful.
I also advocate for government and private industry investment in continuing education and mentoring programs for anyone who would like to be an entrepreneur or start their own business.  Both programs need people behind them who are serious about the success of the programs and their nation. Not like the programs that exist now that are underfunded and too bureaucratic to function properly.

The future depends upon entrepreneurs, inventors and dreamers. Without support the world will progress much slower if at all. Space travel will be an adventure only seen in films. Diseases that could be cured will kill for decades more. Electricity will be generated by burning coal and antiquated methods of atomic power. We will still be driving cars that are stuck in traffic jams for hours 20 years from now and we will probably be still typing with fingers on a keyboard like this one at a computer. I could go on and on as could you.

I hope we will see a more serious commitment from all our governments and private industries for the support of innovation and invention in the near future.

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