Goal: Increase the number of globally competitive innovative products and services produced in rural and/or distressed Kansas communities and regions
Targeted to: Individual companies, rural communities/regions, and distressed communities/regions
The network will specifically focus on:
The proposed network will employ innovative concepts/elements such as needs-based profiling/clustering, innovation assessments, opportunity scouting, boundary spanning, open innovation, design thinking, incubation, regional competitiveness, social networking, innovation network development, IT-based strategies, and innovative information visualization approaches.
Business differentiation and growth occur when opportunity intersects with ideas and the capacity to respond with innovative products and services. Some small rural businesses are able to connect with opportunities from around the world while others fail to make the connections necessary to sustain meaningful growth in global markets. Businesses in distressed or rural regions are especially apt to lack the informal networks necessary to keep up to date on new and disruptive ideas or opportunities. The challenge for many small rural companies and the communities and regions they support is creating an environment that transcends geographic isolation, discovers new markets, innovates openly and fosters global competitiveness to increase the probability of being at the intersection of great ideas and new opportunities.
The Technology Development Institute (TDI) at Kansas State University and its state and regional partners in partnership with the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) are building Innovate Kansas. The innovation network will help businesses and communities build networks to connect to opportunities in order to significantly multiply the capability of Kansas businesses to innovate and grow in rural and isolated areas.The network will act as an opportunity catalyst, boundary spanner, and connector for rural and/or distressed Kansas companies, communities, and regions wishing to compete in regional, national, and global markets with innovative technology-based goods and services.
Objectives: The proposed network will accomplish the following objectives:
Why Innovate Kansas: Traditionally, opportunity and innovation are considered spontaneous and elusive phenomena. Nevertheless, to develop a sustaining competitive advantage, established companies and emerging entrepreneurs must develop networks that consistently funnel new opportunities into their ventures. Additionally they must access external resources to rapidly add value and then successfully launch the resultant innovative products and services into markets, regardless of where in the world the opportunities, resources, and markets reside. Sustaining such a competitive strategy requires companies and entrepreneurs to have wide social networks. Unfortunately, many existing companies and entrepreneurs build relationships with organizations/individuals that are a part of the same social or industry network they frequently interact with rather than exposing themselves to the opportunities in broader networks. In many cases, entrepreneurs are disconnected from opportunities by gaps, or structural holes, in their network. This issue is often complicated in rural or distressed Kansas regions due to insufficient interaction volume and density because of geographic isolation and sparse population. TDI’s proposed Kansas Opportunity Innovation Network aims to fill in the structural holes for rural and distressed Kansas companies, communities, and regions.
Deliverables: The proposed network will provide the following services/tools to rural and distressed companies, communities, and regions:
Initial Core Projects: Innovate Kansas will link companies, community, and regions to opportunities, based on capabilities, by undertaking the following core projects in different regions hence adapting the learning by doing approach. Initial center partner projects range broadly across the scope of work, geography served, industry served, and regional characteristics. Additional projects are expected.
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