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Innovation Strategy Summary

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Theories
  • Research and Technology Transfer
  • Industry Clusters
  • Challenges & Opportunities
  • Innovation Indicators
  • Strategies to Enhance Innovation
  • Appendices

ClassroomThe overall performance of the local economy in the current decade has been disappointing. Recovery from the current recession in the short run depends upon macroeconomic policy, but the long-term success of the local economy depends upon factors that cause growth and development. Innovation is near the top of the list of those factors.

Innovation is a complex process and a fundamental source of economic growth and development. Can the performance of the innovative sectors of our region's economy be improved? This strategy paper, prepared by RCF Economic and Financial Consulting, attempts to answer this question, and finds that the Chicago metropolitan area is well supplied with all aspects of the innovative process, from basic science and technology development to innovative local industries.

But this report contends that improvements can be made. It identifies key components of a new regional innovation strategy, to be led by CMAP. These strategic recommendations include facilitating performance improvements of local technology transfer programs; assisting the growth of local start-up firms; encouraging connections between advanced education and entrepreneurial programs in the region with companies involved in innovation; providing information on innovation developments; and developing goals and tracking metrics for innovation performance.

A sample of findings:

University Research and Technology Transfer:

  • In 2007, an annual survey of university technology transfer activity in the United States yielded a ranking (by license income) in which Northwestern University ranked fourth in the nation (with license income of $85.3 million, based primarily on a single patent for a drug called Lyrica), the University of Chicago ranked 20th (with $15.1 million license income), and the University of Illinois (UIUC and UIC combined) ranked 31st (with $8.1 million in license income).

Venture Capital and Investment:

  • Venture capital can be an important element in fostering innovation by supporting firms that are on the verge of rapid growth. The top five states (based on employment) with venture capital backed companies headquartered in the state are California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Georgia. Illinois ranks 13th in the nation with 215,000 workers in venture capital backed firms headquartered in the state.

A Center of Innovation:

  • Metropolitan Chicago has already established itself as a center of innovation in some areas, including Life Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Pharmaceuticals; Fabricated Metals and Industrial Machinery and Equipment; Financial Services; Software Development; and Electronics. Of particular note, our region is the world's leader in internet backbone for research (but not for general use).

If you're interested in learning more about innovation, please download the following CMAP strategy report. Comments and criticisms are encouraged.

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