Crain’s editorial: The innovation game

The word “innovation” get thrown around a lot in Cleveland, and with good reason. Cities built on manufacturing are looking for a next act, and that includes smart manufacturing and other development buckets that rely on innovative approaches to pay off.

There have, over the years, been a lot of efforts here to come up with plans that strengthen our innovation muscles, but none have quite paid off as hoped or needed.

Maybe hope springs eternal, but the latest initiative looks highly promising, in both design and leadership.

The Cleveland Innovation Project — an alliance of the Cleveland Foundation, the Fund For Our Economic Future, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, JumpStart and TeamNEO, with input from about 150 partners — last week released a report card for 2021, an overview of projections for 2022 and a list of goals for 2030. The project’s existence is an acknowledgement that Cleveland has to do better and is not as competitive as it needs to be with peer cities. Baiju Shah, president and CEO of GCP, was upbeat during a Zoom conversation the Crain’s editorial board had with heads of the five alliance leaders. The goals for 2030 — about $2 billion in research investment, $4 billion in capital invested in tech-led companies and big growth in technology jobs, all with diverse representation — are achievable if we find ways to work more collaboratively and harness the region’s best ideas.

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