Startup America – Dead On Arrival « Steve Blank
February 8, 2011 Leave a comment
Steve Blank discusses the proposed Startup America initiative. He raises a key point in such programs that also points to a weakness in Spokane’s SIRTI:
Go take a look at any of the government organizations talking about entrepreneurship and see how many of its leaders or staff actually started a company or a venture firm. Or had to make a payroll with no money in the bank. We’re trying to kick-start a national initiative on startups, entrepreneurs and innovation with academics, economists and large company executives. Great for policy papers, but probably not optimal for making change.
Here in Spokane we have SIRTI, a state run agency to accelerate the launch and success of technology-based companies.
As described here, over half of the Board of SIRTI comes from tenured academic positions or government and just 3 of the 17 members come from private industry that are actually building things today.
SIRTI’s Board structure dates back to when SIRTI was named Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute and was supposed to spin off academic research to the private sector.
Read today’s mission from their web site:
Sirti accelerates Inland Northwest technology-based companies toward success and positive regional economic impact. We deliver entrepreneurial coaching, a mix of no- or low-cost business services, access to capital, and the legal services needed for successful formation, IP protection and long-term growth.
Does that sound like the original academic spin off program? Hardly.
SIRTI’s Board structure has not kept up with its contemporary mission. Today, 10 of 17 members come from academia or government agencies.
SIRTI’s Board structure should be reworked to improve their capabilities.
Important – the SIRTI people are good people. This is a comment on a dated organizational structure that was codified into the law that created SIRTI and may be hindering SIRTI’s effectiveness.