Innovation Weekly Roundup: 11/18/2016

Weekly Roundup is a McNair Center series compiling and summarizing the week’s most important Entrepreneurship and Innovation news.

Here is what you need to know about innovation this week:


On the Trail of Grassroots Innovation Across America

Eillie Anzilotti, CityLab Fellow

While technological innovation and commercial developments garner the most press, social innovation impacts daily life in tangible ways. The Cooper Hewitt Museum’s exhibit on grassroots innovation demonstrates the necessity of innovation for all socioeconomic levels. Examples include emergency water stations on migration routes from Mexico to the U.S., mobile produce markets, and wireless mesh networks.

Instead of high-cost research, low-cost innovation can solve immediate community issues. At the community level it can be easier to address problems with a bottom-up approach. Cynthia E. Smith, the Manhattan museum’s curator of socially responsible design, travelled over 50,000 miles to find social innovations. One goal in these innovations is to promote economic inclusion by addressing barriers to success.


Remarks by Director Michelle K. Lee at the IAM Patent Law and Policy Conference

Michelle K. Lee, USPTO Director & Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property

Director Lee has discussed what intellectual property policy will look like in the next administration. Intellectual property and innovation have historically enjoyed bipartisan support. Lee believes IP is essential to President-Elect Trump’s promises for job creation and on the economy, noting that IP-intensive industries support over 45 million U.S. jobs and drive economic growth.

Lee listed the USPTO’s achievements in the past eight years. The backlog of patent applications has been reduced by 30 percent despite an increase in filings. Overall pendency times have decreased by up to 25 percent. She argues that PTAB proceedings have increased patent quality by invalidating (some) bad patents early in their lifecycle. Much of the improvements in patent quality come from the Clarity of the Record Pilot (mentioned in last week’s roundup).

She also ran through many of the programs in the past 8 years. These include the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, Interpartes Review, the America Invents Act and President Obama’s dedication to the patent system.


Creating diversity in the innovation economy

Jeffrey J. Bussgang, Harvard Business School, Flybridge Capital
Jody Rose, Executive Director New England Venture Capital Association

The New England Venture Capital Association is launching a program, Hack.Diversity, to incorporate underrepresented talent into the innovation economy. Engineers of color will be provided with training, coaching and mentoring from the fastest growing startups funded by the venture capital group.

The Association claims that the program addresses employers’ desires for diverse talent and provides tangible pathways for community colleges and urban schools to funnel talent into high-growth industries. These groups have faced obstacles in reaping the advantages of the innovation economy. As the authors said “like the rest of the country — we face a looming schism and we are leaving behind whole populations that are not fully reaping the benefits of our entrepreneurial growth engine.” Hack.Diversity attempts to make headway in closing the gap.

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