Bogie and Bacall, Macaroni and Cheese, Innovation and Entrepreneurship – these pairings have stood the test of time as being great together. In the case of innovation and entrepreneurship, the dynamic is often cast as a hand-in-glove relationship. I like this metaphor because it speaks to the synergy that comes from combining innovation with an entrepreneurial mindset.

But this begs the question, metaphorically speaking, which is the hand and which is the glove?

In my humble opinion, innovation is the glove and entrepreneurship is the hand. Gloves serve many purposes, ranging from general use to specific applications. We now have gloves that can truly do remarkable things. They make certain tasks we have thought to be impossible, possible. However, a glove by itself is of limited use. It is the hand within that gives the glove purpose and value.

I am torturing this metaphor to make a point about NC IDEA’s approach to developing the economic potential of our state. In North Carolina, we are fortunate to have many prestigious universities producing scientific breakthroughs of high potential. Statewide, an innovation agenda is being established through several initiatives and organizations. These efforts have contributed to the state being ranked among the top third most innovative states, according to Bloomberg. Yet, innovation alone is of limited value if it does not move from the lab to market.

An entrepreneurial mindset is the catalyst for making the leap from high potential innovation to actual impact. Entrepreneurship is the restless hand that will push, pull, and sometimes punch through obstacles to achieve the best and highest use of innovative new products and services. In the process of doing so, the founder’s hands create the companies and jobs that strengthen functioning societies. In the coming weeks, we will see some great innovations on display at the CED Life Science Conference and LAUNCH Greensboro’s Capital Connects, and a host of similar programs and events. Hopefully, we will be inspired by the innovation AND driven by an entrepreneurial passion to impact the world with these … NC Ideas.

January 19, 2017
Written by NC IDEA President & CEO, Thom Ruhe