Venture development organizations find multifaceted success within their regions

Venture development organizations (VDOs) increasingly serve as the Swiss Army knife of small business growth and innovation throughout the country due to their diverse range of entrepreneurial programs, direct financing options, and commitment to local economic development. Their unique roles in the entrepreneurial ecosystems and regional public-private partnerships have allowed for startup success despite the financial instability brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, annual impact reports and program outcomes reveal many VDOs are serving as well-equipped options for confronting the problems of race and gender inequity that exist within the entrepreneurial and innovation landscape.

When benchmarks breed bad behavior

The old adage, “we become/are what we measure” can push behavior of individuals and organizations into unanticipated negative space when the selected key performance indicators take on too much importance — sometimes amazingly negative space that becomes common practice and potentially damaging for the entire industry.  Counting life science startups created through the licensing work of technology transfer offices (TTOs) at the nation’s research universities appears to be the latest example of KPI (key performance indicator) pursuit potentially going bad, based on a recent Nature Biotechnology article.

SSTI commentary: What is a fair share of R&D? A closer look at benchmarking

Would you expect a community of 100,000 people to have less than one-half as much R&D activity as a community with 250,000 residents? Such a simple question cannot be considered without more information. You may ask which two communities are being compared. Would your answer be different if you learned the smaller community was a college town with a research-intensive university as its core economic engine, while the second community was largely a distribution hub and didn’t have a similar R&D asset?*  Yet politicians, pundits, media and even policymakers often benchmark cities, regions and states on incomplete or irrelevant  information.

Finding the Right Metrics

Whether measuring the nature of the economy or determining the impact of economic development programs, finding the right indicators and metrics is critical. And a new set of questions is arising for economic development practitioners: Who gets credit for impact when multiple organizations provide services to the same company? When impacts may be long-term, what is the best way to gauge success in the short term? These and other questions will be explored during the conference session on Measuring Impacts: Where We Stand and Where We Need to Go at this year’s annual SSTI conference. The session comes at a time when the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) recently released a white paper on common metrics used by economic development programs and when the World Economic Forum is seeking input on the design of its Global Competitiveness Index.

Dashboard Allows Users to Examine Monthly Percent Change in Employment for U.S. Metros

SYNEVA Economics – a consulting firm focused on local and regional economic analysis – released a free-to-use, web-based tool that allows users to examine monthly change in employment for the United States’ largest metros from January 2008 to May 2015. Using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the Metro Employment Index interactive dashboard includes a mapping function that allows users to examine monthly employment data for all 387 metros. The tool also allows users to view a single metro monthly employment data for the 77 months of available data. As of May 2015, the number of metros adding jobs dropped to 319 – approximately 82 percent of all U.S. metros. These finding marked the fifth consecutive month with fewer metros showing job growth. The 63 states that reported job loss was the highest since March 2014. Use the dashboard…

Growth Dashboard Highlights Startup Growth in UK Regions

The Growth Dashboard, an annual report released by the Enterprise Research Centre, a policy advisory group with researchers from five United Kingdom business schools, and the government’s Business Growth Service, serves as a source of evidence to inform discussions on the country’s business support priorities. Presenting a set of growth metrics for startups and existing firms across a range of sub-national geographies in the UK, the metrics used in the annually updated dashboard are: 

Detroit, Pittsburgh Boast Tech Economy Gains

Groups in the greater Detroit and Pittsburgh regions recently released reports documenting the progress these metros have made over the past few years in building thriving technology economies. Detroit’s Automation Alley found that tech industry employment in the region grew by 15 percent in 2011, outpacing growth in all of the other 14 regions used as benchmarks in the study. A report on Pittsburgh’s investment economy, conducted by Ernst & Young LLP and Innovation Works, shows the region to have grown its per capita venture capital investment levels by 34.6 percent during the 2009-2013 period.

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