Innovation is in the top one percent of lookups, and is the 167th most popular word among almost a half a million in the Webster online dictionary. President Obama used the word eleven times in his State of the Union address.
Headlines read “Innovate Better” (TIME, June 13). I’m not sure why the sudden surge in the popularity of the concept of innovation, but we need it.
Various surveys show the United States has dropped out of the top five ranking of countries in terms of spending on research, patents and venture funding for innovation. Is the U.S. still innovative? Yes, just think Apple or Facebook.
So what’s the hook in regard to innovation and entrepreneurism in west Kentucky? Think jobs and future.
A recent article cites a study of new census data on job creation. The headline, “It’s not small firms but new ones that drive employment” tells most of the story. The study of job creation versus company tenure indicates that the down economy credit crunch took its toll on small business’s ability to grow and add jobs.
Conversely, the study (by two Census researchers and one from the University of Maryland) shows that since 2005, startups were the greatest contributor to job creation, and to job growth overall.
It’s worth stopping a moment to say that we feel for small businesses right now and certainly understand why it’s tough to add jobs.
The national economy hasn’t been kind to manufacturers. The floods this year took its toll. Regional plant closures and even next year’s elections may also result in wait-and-see spending and investing patterns.
That leads us back to innovation. All those people searching Webster for the word innovation found the definition, “The introduction of something new.”
In the famous mis-attribution to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sarah Yule and Mary Keene said, “If a man can ... build a better mousetrap ... the world will make a beaten path to his door.” Mousetraps exist, but people have made them better through innovation (they’ve tried anyway. I’ve really not seen anything better than the old wire and wood contraptions.)
Even last month in this column, I appealed to inventors in the region to make a better sandbag.
Most patent applications are written in such a way that denotes how existing technology is reconfigured and combined to produce a new innovation. My point is that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, from micro suede to microchips, from apple slicers to Apple computers.
Terry Reeves is the concierge for EntrePaducah, a joint effort by Paducah and McCracken County governments, the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce and Greater Paducah Economic Development Council to foster small-business growth. Contact him at 270-443-1746 or firstname.lastname@example.org.