Hey look -- I have an Idea!

On my head, that is.  Not in, alas, but on.  That's the way it goes, some days.  But at least I am pressing forward.  Or the idea on my head is.  That is what the sign says, anyway. 

carlson.jpgWeek before last, I spent an enjoyable couple of days at The Economist's Ideas Economy: Human Potential 2010.  I'll post the video when it is available.

Among the most interesting things I heard: Richard Florida says that the "creative sector" has never been above 5% unemployment, and that sector now constitutes 30% of the US workforce.  Here is his presentation:

I also had the chance to meet Vivek Wadhwa (very smart fellow), whose recent fascinating blog post on whether job creation comes from big companies or startups I have been pondering for weeks.  Here is a snippet from the post: "Startups aren't just an important contributor to job growth: they're the only thing. Without startups, there would be no net job growth in the U.S. economy. From 1977 to 2005, existing companies were net job destroyers, losing 1 million net jobs per year. In contrast, new businesses in their first year added an average of 3 million jobs annually."

The differing impacts of startups and established companies on the economy and on innovation are much on my mind these last few months.  Unconventional innovation tends to come from startups, and often from garages, and as I examine in my book that is precisely where we should be looking for new biological technologies.  I've been pondering what it takes for a small company developing a biological technology to succeed in industries dominated by Goliaths.  Microbrewing provides a great existence proof of the potential.  Garage biology is here.  Hang on to your hats.