This is the sixth post in our multi-part series “Global Insights on Chicago’s Tech Sphere” detailing the experiences of our Professional Fellows from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia as they discover more about Chicago’s thriving innovation community, and how it compares to their home countries.
Part 6: Nothing is easy without a vision: Determining the problem and focusing on its solution by using technology to increase efficiency and give a higher and better impact
By Martina Golcic, Croatia
Technology and innovation are big topics everywhere these days. The rank of the cities, universities, and even whole regions depends on how excellent you are both as a startup and as the institution you’re associated with. Those who help you grow, make you great. There are two prerequisites every person needs to fulfill at the very beginning of this journey: to be open-minded and informed about the situation in your field of innovation; and to be an expert in the field, having all the skills, experience and knowledge you need to see your innovation become true. If not an expert, at least you have to know what you do not know, to be able to recruit people with the right skills to join your startup. Sometimes, strength is in numbers. In startups, it is all about quality and having the right (few) people in the right (demanding) positions.
Everything else you will probably need, you will be able to find in many different systems and institutions, like co-working spaces, innovation centers within the University campus, or centers for innovation and technology. There you have access to labs, high and expensive technology, in case you need it for the development of your great innovative solution. Apart from that, you have the network of many PhDs, experts, influential entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs in residence, all willing to help you in your journey.
These systems are very competitive for startups, but open enough to give everyone opportunity to test their idea or prototype, get feedback or, in the end, develop the innovation.
The most current topics technology development and innovation are in healthcare, machine intelligence connected to IoT, and designing the usage of big date base. Such undertakings require many analysts and IT developers. Last, but not least, they need someone who know the market and have the skills and visionary enough spirit to develop the business.
Startups like Braintree use that model. They develop ideas and innovations at the University of Chicago. Bryan Johnson the founder of Braintree is developing something magnificent. He wants to put the microchip into the human brain to combat neurological damage. There is also a success story of Or Cathryn Nagler, who is developing drugs to help treat childhood food allergies. To understand the multi-level needed for such great innovations, I will quote Cathryn Nagler, who said: “The process has involved the Institute for Translational Medicine, the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and its Innovation Fund, the Institute for Molecular Engineering, the Booth School of Business, and the University’s Biological Sciences Division. Being able to form this company across all of these different parts of the University is amazing. I’m just very, very grateful to have this opportunity.”
These are “secret ingredients” needed for successful innovation-based economy. Collaboration, connectivity, availability of knowledge, technologies and equipment, as well as critical thinking of experienced entrepreneurs, and access to fundraising. Of course, the visionaries and people with great ideas are core for this recipe.
Martina is Chief Executive Officer, Koprivnicki Entrepreneur Ltd. in Koprivnica, Croatia. She completed her fellowship with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago.