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This section asks respondents to provide regional performance data (potential indicators: new job growth, employment growth, income per capita growth, and cluster growth).

In answering the following question set, consider the economic indicators of your region’s performance that we just discussed.

Regional Development

  • How do you explain your region’s relative economic performance compared to other regions?

  • Do you think the region has been successful over time, and if so why? 

  • What, if any, are the catalytic events that led to its success? 

  • What are the major barriers to economic prosperity that have appeared (and been overcome) at critical junctures in the evolution of this region?

  • Is there a regional consensus on development issues facing the region today?

Network Focus in Development

  • What sort of networks or network organizations have helped the region develop?

  • How have the networks helped (e.g., finance, workforce development, etc.)?

  • How have the networks evolved over time to meet the needs of the community?

  • Are there any networks that have been particularly important in attracting or nurturing innovative firms?

  • How have they done this? How are they doing it today?

Priorities for Action (Confirmation/Deepening of Survey Results)

  • Why is your firm located in this region? 

  • What barriers do you see to expansion in this region? 

  • According to our leadership survey, A, B, C are priorities for your industry cluster/region to continue to successfully innovate. Do you agree? Why or Why not? Give examples?

Innovation Specific Questions

We have spoken broadly about the development of the region. Now let’s turn to specific aspects of innovation.

General Innovation Issues

  • What are the major sources of new ideas and information for innovation (ideas with commercial potential) been in the region?

  • Where/who did they come from? 

  • What environmental/cultural/business factors are important to, or have an impact on, innovation in your region? Has this changed from the past? Give examples.

  • Some people argue that the interaction between firms in different industries is a major source of innovation (e.g., software and entertainment = game software). Is there much of this creative interaction between different firms in your region?

Private Sector Research and Development (R&D)

  • Broadly speaking, how does your company foster innovation?

  • What is your company’s R&D policy? What is R&D as a percent of sales? 

  • Do you partner in R&D with other companies in your industry? Your suppliers?

  • What mechanisms (formal & informal, network-related) help move research from the lab to prototyping and to business development?

  • Are there mechanisms (organizations) that support quick diffusion of technical or market information to companies in your cluster?

  • If yes, describe?

University R&D (to be asked of university respondents)

  • How do the universities in this region interact with businesses? Has this relationship changed (improved) over the past years? Explain.

  • Are research partnerships with businesses prevalent? 

  • Are the partnerships focused around basic research or technology commercialization?

  • Do businesses frequently and clearly state their needs from the university partnership?

Business (to be asked of business respondents only)

  • How does the University support your cluster?

  • Are they valuable partners in your innovation processes? How?

    • Basic research partnerships? 

    • Commercialization partnerships? 

    • Providers of employees (faculty, researchers, graduates)?

  • How has this changed over time?

  • Has your company licensed technology from a university, private research institution, or federal lab?

  • How aggressive are the universities in commercializing applied research (licensing, equity investor, incubators)?

Government (to be asked of government and business respondents)

  • How effective is your state and local government in fostering the development of innovative firms?

  • What policies directly impact your innovation process/results? 

  • Which policies have helped firms innovate?

  • Which policies have hindered innovation? 

  • Does your state or local government work with the private sector to attract suppliers, manufacturers, and service providers related to your business? Provide examples.

  • Does the state or local government sponsor or support forums to bring together government, industries, and universities? Provide examples.

  • Are there any other important government or non-profit organizations that support business development?

New Business Formation (to be asked of all respondents)

  • How does new business formation happen in your region? Is it predominately internal or do you attract most new companies from outside the region?

  • Are the founders typically from the region or people who have moved to the area to start a business?

  • Do networks play a role in business formation in your region? If so how?

New Venture Support (to be asked of business respondents and venture capitalists)

  • Is there a strong group of local business support and strategic advising services for start-ups? How have they been helpful to you?

  • What alliances or networks provide access to capital?

  • How rapidly can new ventures or expansions be financed locally?

  • Does the regional culture foster start-up ventures and entrepreneurship? If so, how?

  • How does government in your area support the particular needs of start-up companies? (Incubators, financing, enterprise zones?)

Venture Capital (VC)/Financiers Sector

  • What is your primary source of deal flow? (Is it network related?)

  • How does the VC define its role in an investment relationship (e.g., develop team, strategic/expert advisor, connect firms to talent and technology-matchmaker)?

  • Apart from actual deals, what are the most prominent ways you are connected to the business community?

Please have the respondent indicate yes or no to the following questions and then explain his or her answer:

  • Do you have formal and/or informal relationships with other VCs?

  • Do you have linkages with University R&D community? Points of connection? Incubators? Technology licensing offices? Are the relationships formal/informal?

  • Do you have involvement in industry associations?

  • Is there an “angel” community providing seed capital where traditional VC does not? Does your VC follow up as the project matures?

NEXT: Go to Community Leadership Interviews 
Or, back to Sample Community Leadership Interview
Or, back to Appendix

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