Big Ideas of (the First Half of) 2011

June 17, 2011

I promised in my last post that I would do one final entry on the Prosperity Blog before I leave the PSRC. And, since today is my last day, there’s no time like the present to make that happen. I also promised that this last post would be entirely self-indulgent and nostalgic, and I can think of no post that fits the bill more than the annual Prosperity Blog Year In Ideas feature – the yearly tradition in which I point out to you all how good my thoughts on economic development are, in Top Ten format.

Since it’s only halfway through the year (June 30 is less than two weeks away!), I’ll cut that Top Ten down to Top Five. And so, without further ado…and with no more ado ever again by me on this blog…here are the best practical proposals for improving our region’s business climate and competitiveness (and the most impractical, sky’s-the-limit ideas) I’ve had so far in 2011.

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BETI in the NYT

May 24, 2011

In case you were hoping to someday read about our work on BETI in the New York Times, congratulations! Now you can.


Weekly B-MOW: Back from the Brookings Metropolitan Business Plan Event in DC!

April 13, 2011

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the Brookings Institution was putting on an event in DC focused on our work on metropolitan business planning and BETI. What I may not have mentioned is that the event was a packed audience of 300 economic development and policy people from around the country, as well as congressional and Administration folks.

Our region was very well represented in the agenda, and our metropolitan business plan work clearly demonstrated our depth of thinking, breadth of collaboration and specificity of ideas. Another great moment for the central Puget Sound and the state of Washington.

I know that most of you weren’t there, so I wanted to give you a little taste of what you missed:

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BETI in the Seattle Times

April 8, 2011

Thanks for the mention, Jon Talton!


DoD & BETI

April 1, 2011

One of the focuses of our BETI effort has been the potential intersection with the military. I mean, here we are as the Prosperity Partnership, trying to establish an international hug for the energy efficiency technology cluster here in the central Puget Sound. And here we are in the central Puget Sound with one of the largest concentrations of military presence in the country. And there the military is making bold public statements about how they see clean tech and energy efficiency as a key to their core mission. Kinda seems like there must be some mutually beneficial connection, yes?

Luckily for me, I don’t need to do a lot of research to understand how that might work, because ITIF wrote this lovely report entitled “Lean, Mean and Clean: Energy Innovation and the Department of Defense.”

Let’s read along together and see what we learn!

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Ms. BETI Goes to Washington

March 30, 2011

PSRC’s Communications Director liked this post title better than “BETI Does DC”…each to their own, I guess. But the point is not which movie title to reference, but rather that BETI is getting “her” big premiere.

After many, many months of work and a soft roll-out in Chicago, it’s prime time for BETI and her peers from Cleveland and Twin Cities at the April 11 Brookings Event “Metropolitan Business Plans: A New Approach to Economic Growth.” It’s a pretty exciting opportunity to present on a national stage about the innovative work we’ve done to catalyze the building efficiency cluster in our region.

And if you’re interested, you can come.

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Money for Metropolitan Business Planning

March 22, 2011

One thing that we’ve lost focus on during the two years of the Metropolitan Business Plan process is that it’s not just about BETI. Yes, yes, we love our idea for the Building Energy-Efficiency Testing & Integration Center and Demonstration Network, and its proposal to catalyze our local energy efficiency IT cluster through validating these technologies in real-world settings. But although we identified the idea of BETI through the Metropolitan Business Planning process, the MBP goals are much broader.

And the exciting thing is that one of the big goals – funding of regions through Metropolitan Business Plans – may be coming to fruition!

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It’s Cloud-y In Seattle

March 21, 2011

I don’t know if any of you have friends and relatives that don’t live here (I assume you do), but there’s nothing more annoying than when they ask me “Hey, is it raining in Seattle?” Or, when they come to visit and it happens to be raining, they say, “I’m SOOOO surprising it’s raining!” It reminds me of all the comments I got when I was an intern in DC during the Clinton administration (“say hi to Monica Lewinsky for me!”).

So you can imagine how mixed my emotions were to write that post title. (The other option was some obscure Lando Calrissian/Cloud City reference). But sometimes, true is true. And it’s true: our region is the world leader in the cloud. Cloud computing, that is!

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Weekly B-MOW: Washington Innovation Summit

March 18, 2011

I go to a lot of events. Many of them are boring. But I put my neck out a few weeks ago and said that the Washington Innovation Summit would not be. And I was right. I mean, really interesting panels, very forward thinking topics and some great keynotes. If you haven’t heard Geoffrey Moore speak on the transition in enterprise IT from “systems of record” to “systems of engagement,” then you don’t know what the next major business opportunity in the global economy will be.

Apparently, the whole day was video recorded, and will be available on the Technology Alliance website. And you can follow the audience’s questions and comments on Twitter via the hashtag #WAInnovation (including several insightful tweets from yours truly and a back and forth on how funny Bill McSherry is).

But if you want an immediate taste, I took a video of the opening panel, featuring some of the state’s economic development luminaries talking about how we continue to invest in economic development in a time of scarce public money.

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Buildings are the New iPhones

February 28, 2011

Over the last year and a half, we’ve been working on our BETI proposal to facilitate this region becoming the leader in building energy efficiency software. A big part of our optimism for the success of this endeavor is the mix of clean tech entrepreneurship and software development expertise that this region is already known for.

But I had a major realization on Friday that, in many ways, I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees. The most exciting prospects for our region are not to wire buildings so that their energy use can be controlled; the most exciting prospects are to wire buildings such that everything can be controlled. And in our open source society, it’s not going to just be large companies developing software to manage building activities…it’s going to be everyone.

Buildings are the new iPhones.

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Validation About Validation

February 11, 2011

It’s one thing to be right about something and have someone else agree with your ideas. It’s another thing entirely for someone to take your same idea and begin implementation of it! Which seems to be happening with our BETI project and the City of New York.

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Weekly B-MOW: Legislative Hearings on Higher Ed & Clean Tech

February 3, 2011

Back and better than ever, loyal readers, it’s your weekly look at the glamorous comings and goings of the humble economic development staff here at the Prosperity Partnership – a little segment we like to call “Best Meeting of the Week.” Now, this week’s B-MOW is a tie, which reminds me of the jazz album my friend Dan always joked about making, entitled “In the Event of a Tie.” There would be a picture of a necktie on the album cover, but with the clever double entendre of the sports reference. Of course, in the sports world, a tie is “like kissing your sister,” but here at the Prosperity Blog we have no such resistance. If two meetings are equally great, we’ll B-MOW them both. Which, without further ado, is exactly what’s going to happen now with “Weekly B-MOW: Legislative Hearings on Higher Ed & Clean Tech.”

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Man Vs. Technology (In Energy Efficient Buildings), Part II

February 1, 2011

About a year ago, I wrote about how the energy efficiency of buildings is very dependent on human behavior. The idea is that, no matter how good your energy efficiency technology is, it won’t help if it is counteracted by someone opening the window at the wrong time or turning up the thermostat for no reason. And believe me, as someone whose grandmother keeps the thermostat on 76 degrees – in Florida! – that’s a real concern.

But these are acts of omission…or, at the very least, thoughtlessness. If someone is too hot or too cold, they’re not thinking about their building’s energy use, just their own comfort. And so that’s why I’m so interested in how software and automation technology can be used to counteract human error as a way to minimize energy use (and how our region can be an international leader in providing those products, with the help of BETI). What I didn’t anticipate are the acts of commission with regard to building energy use, like creating a human blockade to stop your local utility from installing smart meters!

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Here Are Some Uninformed Thoughts on Pharmaceutical Development

January 24, 2011

As I’ve mentioned many times, I know almost nothing about science. I’m not even sure that my iPod is working the way it should, so you know that I definitely don’t understand biochemistry or molecular engineering. And while this article about a new federal drug development center is better left to blogs like Xconomy and TechFlash, I’d still like to share a few thoughts. Join me for an uninformed journey.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time Of the Year (in Ideas): Big Ideas of 2010

December 15, 2010

I can’t wait for this Sunday. It’s literally my favorite day of the year. Why? Because the New York Times Magazine’s Year in Ideas issue is going to arrive at my doorstep! (I know, that’s a very nerdy reason for a day to be one’s favorite, but what can I say…I love ideas!) The NYT issue is apparently the 10th annual, but it also serves another important annual role: inspiring the creation of the Prosperity Blog’s 2nd annual “Big Ideas” post!

To quote from last year’s, we here at the Prosperity Blog have also had a good year of ideas, generating all sorts of practical proposals for improving our region’s business climate and competitiveness. But, of course, we have also had lots of impractical, sky’s-the-limit ideas that we hope someone is going to take and run with and make all our dreams come true. So, for all you good-idea-awaiting folks out there, here’s a summary…presented in Top Ten format:

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