Last week’s early-morning eye-opener, the Minnesota High Tech Association (MHTA) Tech.2017 Breakfast at the Metropolitan Ballroom, was a celebration of Minnesota’s entry into the top ten ranking (#7) of best technology states in the Milken Institute’s State Science and Technology Index. But it was also a reminder that there is still work to be done to crack the top five.
A few key takeaways from the day’s excellent “brain food” (the breakfast wasn’t bad, either):
- Workforce readiness and the talent gap are key priorities for Minnesota’s technology industry. Demographics aren’t keeping up with job creation and the state is estimated to have a 278,000-job labor shortage by 2022. MHTA is at the forefront of solving this challenge with its new Talent Exchange initiative, helping technology businesses of all sizes connect with the talent they need to hire to stay competitive.
- Minnesota must prioritize access to risk capital and investment in research and development to remain a top tech state. Minnesota ranked #16 and #19 in the Milken Index for risk capital and R&D inputs, respectively. MHTA is working hard to help early stage businesses access non-dilutive federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs, and is advocating for extension of the federal Angel Investment Tax Credit and enhancement of Minnesota’s R&D Tax Credit.
- Mobile strategy must be driven by business need, not simply because you “need an app.” Perhaps it’s not surprising that more than 80 percent of all apps developed are abandoned, at an average development and launch cost of $270,000 each. Forging direct user connections, improving data collection and using mobile technology for process improvement are all critically important facets of a strategic mobile mindset.
- Technology is about people. Innovation is about change. Technology does not equal innovation; rather, it enables people to drive innovation. There are high expectations for the power of technology to transform business outcomes, but it is not a panacea for solving business challenges. Focus on people first – only then can technology truly ignite positive business momentum.
We’re excited by the ideas we heard at Tech.2017 and can’t wait to hear more at the next MHTA event, the organization’s spring conference May 9 in Minneapolis.