In his book How Innovation Works, Matt Ridley defines invention and innovations as different things. The creation or invention of a product is not the same as developing a product that meets a need and becomes useful. For makers, this often means making the transition from prototype to product, as well as developing the capabilities to market the product. Maker incubators offer support for makers who want to turn physical prototypes into products that, in turn, can become businesses. To achieve these goals, an incubator can build connections with mentors and among makers to help develop a local or regional ecosystem that encourages and connects people and services.
COVID-19 represents a challenge, as well as an opportunity, for what incubators do and how they work with makers. Just as makerspaces became the hubs for the rapid response to COVID-19 through PPE production, how might maker incubators foster the kind of cooperative environment for innovations that involve more people and benefit local and regional economies? It has also demonstrated the power of sharing designs globally, one that can become adopted widely. It has shown the power of open source invention when people work together collectively. This is another point that Ridley makes in his book — innovation is best understood as a collaborative effort. In his chapter, Innovation Essentials, he cites these features of how innovation works.
- Innovation is gradual
- Innovation is often serendipitous
- Innovation is recombinant
- Innovation involves trial and error
Is this what we see in maker incubators or should expect to see more of?
Recorded: Thursday, September 17th @ 4pm PT / 7pm ET
Join Make: and Nation of Makers in conversation with the following panelists as we take a look at a bottom-up approach to economic recovery. Register to be part of the conversation on Zoom or enjoy the show on Facebook.
- Sal Bednarz is Partner at the Port Product Lab, a professional workspace for designers, inventors, engineers, and emerging manufacturers in Oakland, CA.
- Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. She is founder of Robot Launch, a global robotics startup competition, cofounder of Robot Garden hackerspace, and a mentor, startup advisor and investor of hardware accelerators interested in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI.
- Cheryl Kennedy is the Executive Director of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy, NY, which cultivates a community of makers, innovators and entrepreneurs to initiate creative collisions resulting in economic and personal growth.
- Gina Lujan is a Social Entrepreneur, focusing on building community, business development, innovation, strategic planning and regional economic development at Hacker Lab. With over 20 years experience in business and technology, she also serves as Finance Advisor for Norcal SBDC, offering free advising, workshops, and funding assistance to small businesses.
- Errin Stanger is the Deputy Director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing innovative and entrepreneurial activity in Arkansas by creating a collaborative ecosystem that mobilizes the resources, programs and educational opportunities and to build the state’s economy.
- Dr. Pierce Gordon is an independent innovation catalyst, researcher, facilitator, and evaluator who specializes in interdisciplinary research that unpacks how communities value, support, and practice innovation in social justice and international development. He was the inaugural Innovation Fellow in Residence at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, the Co-founder and Equity Designer of Reflex Design Collective in Oakland, CA, and ran the Design for Social Impact sector of BEST Laboratory at UC Berkeley.
- Haven Allen is the CEO and co-founder of MHub, is an entrepreneur and technology strategist who most recently concentrated on growing the manufacturing industry and strengthening its community throughout Chicagoland.
- Shannon McGhee is Director of Marketing for MHub, which provides resources, mentorship, and access to manufacturing industry insiders, mHUB helps early-stage innovators go from prototype to product to sustainable business, driving a greater likelihood of success.
- Megan McNally is co-founder of The Foundry, a makerspace in Buffalo, NY. She holds a degree in Environmental Policy from Barnard College, has experience in green building construction and worked at Yestermorrow Design/Build School. She moved back to Buffalo to run a woodworking business from 2011-2014. From her experience as a woman business owner in a non-traditional trade, she was passionate about creating The Foundry as a place to support other women and people of color exploring the possibilities of making and entrepreneurship.