In a recent column in Marketing Management we explained the inevitability of the rest of the world catching up to us in business and technical expertise and why it is imperative that we increase the productivity of our innovation commercialization as a nation. We suggested nationwide innovation scholarships that create thousands of new businesses started by American engineers, scientists, artists, artisans and other innovators.
In this column we expand on our proposal by explaining how CEOs like yourselves in collaboration with universities can gain great benefits by increasing the innovativeness of your company by sponsoring and working with innovators. For, say $25,000 you can support the commercialization of an innovator’s idea. The University pays another $25,000 because Universities must be forced to invest at least some of their endowment in innovation and walk the talk when it comes to a re-structuring of the U.S. economy. So what you get is a $50,000 scholarship in your name to help start-up an innovative idea in your industry. Such collaboration can then work in local incubators or by developing a cluster of innovations in order to accelerate social ventures as the S&R foundation does at Halcyon House in Washington D.C. . Good idea? No it’s not a good idea, it’s a great idea so this is what you have to do.
Get together with other local CEOs and approach your local University Presidents and insist they develop such a program that you as a group can support 50:50. It will happen. If you persist it will happen and you will be forging a much better future for the United States by serving your own self-interests as well.
Oh and another thing. Almost all of the growth in consumer product and service markets over the next 50 years will be in China and India and it will be huge. Are you in on the ground floor on this? Do you have a Chinese partner yet? An Indian partner If not, then you are giving away these market to, by then local Chinese and Indian companies that in 10 years will be coming over here and to all those international markets which you serve now. If you’re not prepared, they will eat your lunch. This is a certainty. They will be the largest consumer product and service companies in the world. And if they learn by doing and they do a lot more than us, they will be best in the world at doing things well. Think about an Indian partner and investing in these markets. Think about a Chinese partner and investing in these markets. You owe it to your customers, your employees and your successor.
Peter Dickson is an Eminent Scholar and Professor at Florida International University.
Michael Czinkota is a Professor of international marketing at Georgetown University.