This fall WorldChicago is hosting 12 entrepreneurs and innovators from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia in the U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program. The core of the program is a four-week fellowship with incubators, startups, co-working spaces, NGOs, and universities across the Chicagoland entrepreneurial ecosystem. This post is the first in our multi-part series “Global Insights on Chicago’s Tech Sphere” detailing our fellows’ experiences as they discover more about Chicago’s thriving innovation community, and how it compares to their home countries.
Part 1: On Innovation
By Andrea Čordaš, Bosnia & Herzegovina
In its core, innovation represents a novel product, service, or method that meets articulated and unarticulated needs of the market in a novel form or process. Most importantly, innovation is creating new value.
When trying to understand how innovation happens it is good to keep in mind that innovation can happen unexpectedly, but it can also be nurtured as a common trait within a community by developing societal DNA through storytelling and educational tools. Storytelling in an innovative society revolves around the unbreakable spirit of the community, eureka moments, persistence in solving societal problems, interconnectedness of community members, open-mindedness, and drive for creating value through bringing change.
Developing an innovative society should be observed as a process, not a given good or a one-time event. This process needs to be steered by leaders from educational, entrepreneurial, social, scientific, health, and public sectors. Pursuing this path to innovation may seem exhausting and time consuming, but when observed through different set of lenses it comes naturally for a society built on unique set of values. When society agrees on its core values and when innovation is a common thread of those values, a culture of innovation begins to develop and becomes a core of economic development and societal changes.
Chicago has grown a strong tech entrepreneurial community, which accepts failure as part of the learning process and perceives competition as an excellent driving force for continuous improvement. Unique about Chicago is the way in which one can quickly understand the prevalent values and see that the city is persistently supporting entrepreneurs and new technologies. People are very helpful and they share their knowledge happily, which is another uniqueness about Chicago. I would describe it as an open society facing global challenges in a very positive manner, keeping its entrepreneurial community well-supported and connected to capital, experienced mentors and relevant business resources.
During Chicago Innovation Awards 2016 at Harris Theatre I began experiencing how innovation narrative grew strong with time and how through celebrating innovation Chicago became a well-known innovation hub. It became clear to me that I would like to bring some of this experience back home by becoming a storyteller on how innovation can bring progress and prosperity to our society and leading the way to change.