Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Innovation Nations: It's a Smart World After All

The Christian Science Monitor has published a cool article on how 5 countries are encouraging innovation. It of course views this phenomenon through an American lens - omigosh, more competition for America!

But even the Monitor recognizes that competition in trade is good for America - which is mighty good for Canada and the rest of the world.

Dartmouth College business prof Vijay Govindarajan notes that "The United States can be competitive in the next 25 years only if we embrace globalization 150 percent... Globalization is like gravity. You can deny it only at your peril."

Here's a preview of the startup action in 5 countries.

BRAZIL: A major government-backed effort to support start-ups includes a growing array of university-based incubator programs. Entrepreneur Andre Averbug, who develops software for mass-transit services, notes that, "A few years ago, Brazil was seen as a commodity country," he says. (Sound like any other country you know?)

SINGAPORE: Its startup experiments run from subsidies for ventures involving targeted technologies to putting up public money alongside venture investors who come to the city-state.

INDIA: If anyone doubts India's ability to innovate, consider the build-it-yourself automobile. At a price below $3,000, the Tata Nano is providing affordable wheels and generating jobs for people who specialize in assembling the boxed parts into vehicles.

ISRAEL: The military is a huge stimulus for innovation, says Saul Singer, coauthor of "Start-up Nation." "The Israeli military is smaller at the top than most, and it forces more authority down," he says. "The sense of improvisation comes from being stressed and short on resources."

CHINA: Besides leveraging its huge market potential to lure technology partners from overseas, China is expanding its ability to generate new ideas using a self-created array of research universities. "China's blend of sheer demographic scale, bottom-up commercial drive, and top-down planning may be rewriting the development rule book."

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