Duane Roth: The Connector Who Wired Up a Regional Innovation Economy
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“innovation agenda.” His influence also reached into places like Indiana and New York, Walshok said, as Cornell University and the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, laid their plans to create a $2 billion campus for technology innovation on Roosevelt Island in New York City.
If Roth can be faulted, it is perhaps for neglecting San Diego’s software and Internet sectors during his eight-plus years at Connect.
When Brant Cooper, an Encinitas, CA-based Web marketing consultant and lean startup advocate, laid out the innovators’ dilemma afflicting San Diego’s innovation establishment in a provocative blog post earlier this year, he lumped Duane Roth together with the leaders of other legacy tech organizations as part of what he called “the patriarch problem.” Cooper argued that the people who made their money riding bygone waves of innovation are now leading the legacy institutions supporting startup communities—and they just don’t get it.
Cooper’s critique was perhaps more valid for Web startups than other local sectors, especially in the wireless industry and life sciences. But of all the institutions that Cooper called out in his critique, Roth was the only innovation leader who asked to meet him.
“He went through somebody on their board who had worked with me,” Cooper recalled. “We discussed all sorts of things. He talked about what some of Connect’s larger roles were, above and beyond the Springboard program [a mentoring program for startup CEOs], their influence on the JOBS Act, and their role in the tech community. He admitted that the tech sector was one of the more challenging sectors for Connect, and he was appreciative of the work San Diego Tech Founders has done.
“In the end we probably agreed on more things than we disagreed,” Cooper said. Perhaps most importantly, Roth and Cooper agreed that innovation communities constantly need refreshing, with new ideas and … Next Page »