Strategic Plan for InnovateNC

Greensboro’s Plan for Developing a Global Innovation Design Ecosystem

  1. Mission: Infuse opportunity and prosperity throughout Greensboro by purposefully engaging under-connected populations to unleash design innovation for economic growth.
  2. Vision: Create a design destination that attracts, develops, and retains diverse creative talent and firms to establish Greensboro as an epicenter for inclusive innovation.
  3. Objective: Create a Culture of Inclusive Innovation

Greensboro has a long history as a creative and connected city – an education hub with seven institutions of higher education and college students making up over 10% of our population; a maker city that designs and manufactures products that people use worldwide; and a globally-connected city with exporting as part of our DNA. InnovateGSO aspires to build on these historical strengths by linking our dispersed innovation and entrepreneurial assets and connecting new diverse designers and makers to monetize ideas. InnovateGSO expands our global innovation and design ecosystem by bringing our education, business, government, and nonprofit sectors together as catalysts for new enterprise creation in high growth “creative and traded” industry clusters.

  • Network: all 7 higher education institutions, corporate innovation and design teams, entrepreneurs, investors, economic developers, civic resources, grassroots organizations, multicultural community, artists, and scientists
  • Catalyze: new creative ideas and diverse perspectives, cross-boundary learning experiences, public/private partnerships across entire community
  • Multiply: expand the “design” field; increase creative occupations in globally-traded clusters, commercialize new creative ideas, economic growth by including previously under-connected populations
  1. Theory of Change: Link and Expand our Innovation Ecosystem
  • Though not widely recognized, Greensboro has a strong heritage as a global player with world-class design, innovation, and creative assets.  While we have strong existing pockets of innovation assets – 7 colleges and universities, Gateway University Research Park, Union Square Campus, Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship, co//ab, HQ Greensboro, The Forge, Revolution Mill – they are not optimally connected to leverage their united potential.
  • Greensboro is a very diverse city with under-connected talent that offers significant untapped potential for driving innovation. Our vibrant immigrant and refugee population (13%) contributes to the economic, social, and cultural richness of our community.  Yet, we continue to struggle with institutional locations, structures, and climates that can hinder our best efforts to build diverse and productive teams of colleagues. Equitable access to opportunity, lack of connectivity, and trust barriers impede our economic growth.
  • In Michael Porter and Richard Florida’s “The Winners and Losers of Economic Clustering,” they recommend fostering a combination of traded clusters (industries that export goods and services outside of their immediate geographic areas) and creative, knowledge-based occupations (science, technology, design). The intersection of creative occupations with traded markets is where the highest job growth and wage growth will be in the next decades. Greensboro has the assets to capitalize on this creative, in-traded trend if we act quickly.
  •  Jobs in design fields are much broader than most of us think – growing design clusters include aerospace, logistics, curriculum, furniture, systems, art, entertainment, sports, media, web, cyber technology, apps, and games.  New sectors are emerging that build on design thinking theory in product design – translating to process, program, and service design – all with a customer-centric approach. Greensboro has a legacy as a leader in Manufacturing, Transportation, Arts & Culture and Education. The critical discoveries of InnovateGSO are how design, in conjunction with emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), can be a catalyst for new frontiers of discovery in these legacy sectors. How can our purposeful collisions of artists and scientists form and function, as well as innovate around solving our society’s complex problems, leading to new enterprise development and job growth?
  • Greensboro has untapped potential in the talent, investment, innovation, culture, and entrepreneurship that naturally surround our higher education institutions. Our colleges and universities offer InnovateGSO:

o   Talent – students, faculty, staff, and alumni steeped in science, arts, and     technology

o   Programming – degree programs, outreach initiatives

o   Capacity & Research Output – innovation, design, creative and research capabilities

o   Connective tissue – locally, regionally, globally