When up and running in a year or so, St. Petersburg’s leaders expect two new business incubators, one slated to be located just south of downtown near the USF-St. Petersburg campus, in walking distance of All Children’s and Bay Front Hospitals, and a smaller incubator already planned for downtown St. Pete by St. Petersburg College, to jump start the evolution of a national and international health and wellness technology cluster in the Tampa Bay area.
It will take more than two new business incubators to transform St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area, however.
Clusters are geographic concentrations of companies, suppliers, related industries, and specialized institutions such as academic programs –think Silicon Valley (technology), or Hollywood (entertainment). Clusters are prominent features of all successful and growing economies, and a crucial driver of entrepreneurship, technology, competitiveness and new business growth.
Clusters and the higher productivity that fosters them result not from the inputs an area has per se, but from how well a location uses local assets and institutions to produce valuable goods and services.
Policy makers and executives through their choices create a business environment that affects how areas evolve economically.
In fact there are many examples of societies that were technologically superior but not able to advance economically: China in 1400, the Arab World at about the same time, or in the case of firms, General Motors in the 1970s.
According to Michael Porter, a globally recognized expert on business competition and competitiveness, entrepreneurship is just one of a variety of inputs that are necessary for developing higher productivity.
Also needed is a social/political/cultural/legal environment that fosters its application. The environment consists of, for instance, good public education, health care, and physical infrastructure, clean water, fair competition laws, management and organization of people, transparency, research and development, as well as many others.
There are many motivations for starting a company, but one of the most common threads is that company founders believe they can do better than the status quo. A good part of that is probably curiosity and ego – but a bigger part of that is an honest, analytical look at what’s going on and not being satisfied with it.
Local leaders have made significant strides in bringing about St. Petersburg’s transformation. Without realizing that the environment is all important in developing a city (or county, or state) St. Petersburg may change, but will likely emulate those societies that had the means but not the ability to advance.
Fast forward fifty-some years and consider how our Public Education System has adapted; our Healthcare System; our Public Safety System; our Political System; and our Economic System. The questions remain; where do we want to go as a city (or county, or state) and how do we get there?
Here are some references to start the dialogue:
Decoding the Contradictory Culture of Silicon Valley,By Jeanne G. Harris and Iris Junglas;
Silicon Valley Tech Innovation Ecosystem–Silicon Valley’s greatest innovation – how companies evolve from ideas to successful enterprises;