Regenerate the State

We talk about sustainability, but really. . . what do you want to sustain — our current economy, climate change, healthcare access, escalating energy costs?  Who wants to support or nurture our broken-ness? Let’s restore our state to a better place,  to a higher state. We want to regenerate the state.

Sustainability, Economic Development, Innovation, Knowledge  — we all are saying the same thing, but we are speaking different languages.  These words imply we all want more for our state, and we all want a change. So let’s stop using terms as barriers and mobilize this energy.

Take a look at the Green the Knowledge District (GKD) status report.  The GKD team finished their six-month pilot in the City’s much-discussed jewelry district, and beyond the data we collected on buildings and things . . .  we collected people. . . people who live, work and enjoy the district; students who want to explore, test and build solutions for the district; and stakeholders who want to grow, retain and recruit enterprise.  They want to learn more, to explore the possibilities and collaborate for change. They want to contribute to the dialogue for a renewed quality of life.

The GKD discusses preliminary energy results, but also discusses the many questions that we need to ask to do this right. Let’s begin to translate what we want, and make it happen and build our future together. Read the report. Talk about it. Tweet and blog about it. We need translators to mobilize the effort that means change!

Open this for the GKD Status Report, and open this one for the GKD Student Research Reports.

On 10/12/11, an inspiring event, the Life Sciences Technology Showcase, took place in Rhode Island that demonstrated the depth and power of life science talent within Providence’s Knowledge District (KD).  While many in the city and state are busy thinking about the logistics of how to promote the vacant I195 land (e.g. what’s to come), a major section of RI’s life science community (over 200 researchers, doctors, professionals and investors) gathered in the Knowledge District to showcase and connect people to what is already here! The Showcase is a proof-point that real innovation is already thriving in drug therapeutics, devices, diagnostics and healthcare IT.  Land is important but it is the community of innovators and collaborators that will draw new companies to RI and where more attention and resources need to be directed.

The Showcase organizers and participants are convinced now is time to create a Life Sciences Innovation Hub to connect all the valuable assets supporting Rhode Island’s life sciences community.  The Showcase is just a first step.  If we don’t keep momentum, we will lose a critical opportunity to contribute to RI’s economic sustainability.  Saying biotech and health care innovation is here isn’t enough.  We need to better connect organizations, seek collaborative grants, work as ambassadors to companies within and outside RI, and support our current cohort of entrepreneurs.  The Hub align and coordinate resources.  Individual institutions, the private sector, and government must all have a seat at the table and contribute to maximize the Hub’s effectiveness.  Help us grow the Hub,  and let us know what you are doing so we can connect you.  Get engaged in the action. Contact RI-CIE to find out more and see what you missed, and stay tuned on oscarri.org for upcoming hub activities.

Rhode Island has the requisite independence, innovation and determination to make something transformational happen. Let’s get started. Presidents Simmons and Dooley

The question is do we have trust in each other to get started. We always list our amazing resources and strengths . . . scale, access, capacity, natural assets. What we need to focus on is the governances that manage these resources, and learn to trust them.  We need to believe they are willing to take risks for each other and for their shared vision. We need to change a culture. I’m not saying a new accent, I’m talking a new attitude.

We have always focused on the transactions between government, academic and industry sectors. The taxes, the tuition, the sales — all about the get and never about the give. And in this Projo oped, two highly regarded university presidents give their commitment — not take, but commit to Rhode Island.  They offer what is possible, not what is limiting us.  It is time to take them up on their offer and see what can be possible.

In recent study at Harvard, “Effects of University Innovation on Local Economic Growth and Entrepreneurship” by Naomi Hausman on 1/23/11, we are reminded of what universities make possible if we embrace them, and we should really leverage this opportunity. Remember Silicon Valley, North Carolina’s Research Park, and even Boston Route 128! Were they not transformative to the local economy? and weren’t they conveniently located next to universities?

The statement is not “let’s get started” it’s more like “what are you afraid of?” Come on, we got the sectors to agree to travel to Houston together, next stop. . . disneyland! That’s pretty magical!

In this TEDTalk from 2005, Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold puts forth a very convincing defense of the value of collaborating. After probing deeply into the alternative theories and puzzles about how we interact, he suggests that we’re now entering a new phase of economic and social cooperation. Certainly, we are living in a new technological, academic and entrepreneurial environment that lets us work together like never before. OSCAR is committed to keeping this collaboration at the forefront of all our work, from the Green the Knowledge District Initiative onwards to making Providence a Smarter City for the decades beyond our reach.


This “Map of Scientific Collaborations from 2005 – 2009″ (http://collabo.olihb.com/) by Olivier H. Beauchesne  at science-metrix,inc. says it all. And if you experienced it. . . there is no need to read on, but to feel this absolute work of art made up of people who share values. It is our future, and it will bring solutions to the challenges we face today.

We talk about collaboration. We use and sometimes overuse the word to position for many rewarding outcomes. But if we stop for one moment to understand what it means to truly collaborate, we will never underestimate this word’s value again. It is not something that you label or add into a grant. It is not something you create from the top-down.

Collaborating means people trusting and sharing values enough to engage in a shared vision. It takes leadership with integrity and connectivity among people who believe in each other. Once you have this — you have the power to change the world.

Thank you Olivier H. Beauchesne and science-metrix,inc for sharing your view. Thank you to collaborators around the globe for finding each other! Go forth and innovate!

Updated 12:19 p.m. with press release from Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, below.

Providence is one of 22 global cities selected by IBM in its 2011 Smarter Cities Challenge. Go Providence, RI!  From Tshwane-Pretoria, South Africa to Guadalajara, Mexico to Nice, France to Townsville, Australia to Providence, RI, we will explore in the coming months how urban concerns are addressed “by implementing *smarter* technologies and processes.” As IBM stated, Providence was a city that

demonstrated a solid track record of innovative problem solving

IBM plans to announce 100 smarter cities through this challenge, and, as one of them, Providence will have access to some of IBM’s top talent and resources, who spend time in our city-state, living and working among us to help us tackle a tough issue.

OSCAR has and will be working closely with the City of Providence to share with you more information about this amazing opportunity that just accelerated our city and state from what Travel & Leisure referred to as an underdog city, to a very visible city via the IBM challenge. Congratulations Mayor Taveras! And thank you OSCAR Stakeholders!

Welcome to Little Rhody, Big Blue! Catch the Wave of Innovation! Follow oscarri.org as we track this opportunity.

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There’s no sense in pretending that everything will magically get better overnight. But some recent economic reports bode well for the U.S., Rhode Island, and Providence. By bringing Rhode Island’s leading academics and entrepreneurs together under one umbrella, OSCAR is looking forward to being a part of the solution.

At the start of this month, the Federal Reserve released its “Beige Book survey,” forecasting a steadily improving economic recovery in New England. And nationwide, February marked the 12th consecutive month of growth in the private sector, with companies adding 222,000 jobs–expansion that the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein labeled “the best jobs report in three years.”

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