Disruption – It’s All the Rage

Innovation Districts and Technology Hubs are springing up like kudzu on an old picket fence. I started the year with a trip to Silicon Valley, birthplace of modern disruptive technology, and quickly scoured the U.S. – from University City in Philadelphia to the Cortex in St. Louis, seeking the brightest minds in creative collaboration to sequence the DNA of Innovation. What I found was that the innovation genome is varied and complex. There is no one pathway towards the adjective – disruption or noun – innovation. Indeed while we all like to use the terms, we often find our metros mired in regressive efforts to impede disruptive innovation, citing archaic rules and monopolistic regulatory hurdles designed to protect the old established order. Naturally these efforts fail – for change – no matter the impediments, will finds its way, much like that kudzu noted earlier.

The Tampa Innovation Alliance embraces disruption and indeed is now in full sprint towards a new future for the University area. We have eschewed the well-meaning advice of some who have cautioned us to soft peddle the larger societal problems, from homelessness to pedestrian and bicycle safety, which burden our area, and to instead embrace the challenge – seeking to make our University area the laboratory for solutions to big wicked problems. The status quo has failed our area and the solutions will come from creative analytical approaches forged by a new breed of problem solvers; welcome to the Tampa Innovation Alliance.

Indeed our Innovation Gathering on October 26 at The University Mall will be a platform for those living, working or studying in the area to showcase their solutions. We call on one and all to join Richard Florida, the Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and author of eight classic books on Innovation and the Creative Class, for a not-to-be-forgotten gathering of the most creative minds in the region. We expect hundreds to join us for 90 packed minutes of collaborative engagement. Richard Florida will be introduced by Jeff Vinik – owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and catalyst behind the single greatest redevelopment project in Tampa’s history.

Richard Florida’s latest book “The New Urban Crisis” (out in 2017) is a clarion call for addressing the challenges which our most innovative metros face, that being the growing disparity between rich and poor – and between the digital and service economy. Tampa is on the front line of this battle as our economy has long been satisfied with back office jobs of which our dead-last ranking among the top 30 metros in median household income is evidence. We intend to grow high wage jobs, increase our median household income, and address the very societal issues which have been ignored for far too long. Rather than running away from the problems holding us back we intend to run towards them with solutions and to become the recognized leader in solving the maladies of the urbanized knowledge economies that Richard Florida addresses in his latest book.

So join us and Richard Florida and help our emerging Innovation District become the driver for solving big urban problems. That’s my Byte for Now.


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