From Tactical Fragmentation to Strategic Integration: The Open Innovation Diplomacy Concept and The Hellenic-American Innovation Bridge

ELIAS G. CARAYANNIS, PHD, MBA, BSCEE, CPMMA, PROFESSOR OF CIENCE,TECHNOLOGY,
INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP; DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY,
INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP, EUROPEAN UNION RESEARCH CENTER (EURC); CO-FOUNDER
AND CO-DIRECTOR, GLOBAL AND ENTREPRENEURIAL FINANCE RESEARCH INSTITUTE (GEFRI),
SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

 

 

Developed and developing economies alike face increased resource scarcity and competitive
rivalry. Science and technology increasingly appear as a main source of competitive and sustainable advantage for
nations and regions alike. However, the key determinant of their efficacy is the quality and quantity of
entrepreneurship-enabled innovation that unlocks and captures the pecuniary benefits of the science enterprise in
the form of private, public or hybrid goods. Entrepreneurship and Innovation are human endeavors and socioeconomic
phenomena that are intrinsic to human nature as well as constitute both social and political engines of
positive change and growth provided they are balanced and guided by effective and transparent regulatory and
incentive systems in place.
Current local (Greek), regional (European) and global economic and financial conditions and trends make the need
to trigger, catalyze and accelerate high quantity and quality entrepreneurial initiatives that are based on high
quality and quantity innovations (low-tech, medium-tech and high-tech) even more clear and present as this is one
of the major ways and means to target and achieve real, sustainable and eventually accelerating GNP growth.
Such growth is much more likely to come from new and qualitative different and superior initiatives (from “sunrise”
industries) rather than re-structuring existing (and perhaps “sunset”) industries. It may be strategically more
prudent to invest scarce and precious resources in carefully calculated strategic “bets” rather than keep throwing
them after waning industrial sectors and declining firms and in that sense, it may be best to provide aggressive
socio-economic re-training, re-insertion and/or early retirement programs to allow for real growth strategies to be
implemented.

Democratic Capitalism

Moreover, we believe that the concepts of robust competitiveness and sustainable entrepreneurship (Carayannis,
2008) are pillars of a regime called “democratic capitalism” (Carayannis and Kaloudis, 2009) (as opposed to
“popular or casino capitalism”), where real opportunities for education and economic prosperity are available to all
and especially the younger people (but not only).
This would be the direct derivative of a collection of top-down policies as well as bottom-up initiatives (including
strong R&D policies and funding but going beyond that to the development of innovation networks and knowledge
clusters across regions and sectors (Carayannis and Campbell, 2005).
In this context, linking university basic and applied research with the market, via technology transfer and
commercialization mechanisms, including government-university-industry partnerships and risk capital investments,
constitutes the essential trigger mechanism and driving device for sustainable competitive advantage and
prosperity. In short, university researchers properly informed, empowered, and supported are bound to emerge as
the architects of a prosperity that is founded on a solid foundation of scientific and technological knowledge,
experience, and expertise and not in fleeting and conjectural “ financial engineering” schemes.

Open Innovation Diplomacy

Building on these constituent elements of technology transfer and commercialization, Open Innovation Diplomacy
encompasses the concept and practice of bridging distance and other divides (cultural, socio-economic,
technological) with focused and properly targeted initiatives to connect ideas and solutions with markets and
investors ready to appreciate them and nurture them to their full potential. More specifically, Open Innovation
Diplomacy leverages Entrepreneurship and Innovation as key drivers, catalysts and accelerators of economic
development and envisions in particular the development of efforts and initiatives along the following axes
concerning in particular the socio-economic condition and dynamics in Greece currently (excerpted from
Carayannis, Keynote Lecture, BILAT, Vienna, Austria, March 2011).

The What

1. Re-engineer mindsets, attitudes and behaviors in Hellas to help people—and especially the younger
ones —realize the true nature and potential of innovation and entrepreneurship as a way of life and the
most powerful lever for and pathway to sustainable growth and prosperity, with positive spill-over effects
staunching the braindrain, reduced cynicism and increased optimism and trust in the future and each
other, reduced criminality and social unrest, higher assimilation of migrant groups and similar effects.
2. Engage in sustained, succinct and effective dialog with stakeholders and policy makers within Hellas as
well as the European Union to pursue the reform and as needed re-invention of institutions, policies and
practices that can make flourish entrepreneurship and innovation in areas such as related laws, rules and
regulations, higher education, public and private Research and Development, civil society movements
and non-Governmental organizations.
3. Identify, network and engage purposefully and effectively with the Hellenic Diaspora professional and
social networks around the world to trigger, catalyze and accelerate their involvement and intervention in
a focused and structured manner to help with goals 1 and 2 above as well as help establish, fund and
manage entrepreneurship and innovation, promoting and supporting initiatives and institutions such as
business plan competitions, angel and other risk capital financing of new Hellenic ventures, mentoring of
and partnering with said ventures to ensure their survival, growth and success both within Hellas and in
the global markets. Of particular interest and importance would be communities of practice and interest
among the Hellenic Diaspora that would include the shipowners, large trading concerns, and technology
entrepreneurs in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Australia as well as the European Union and the
rest of the world.

The How

Greek companies (especially small- and medium-size firms) need to begin with as high quality tools and expertise
at their disposal (in terms of business planning, risk capital financing guidance and sources as well as strategic
partners, complementors, suppliers and customers—in short a business ecosystem they can thrive in both locally,
regionally and globally).
1. This should begin with a mindset shift from only short-term, survival mode thinking which is normal for
entrepreneurs especially in their early business stages to more strategic, globally as well as locally
attuned thinking and acting which nowadays could be greatly enabled and empowered via social
networking tools and methodologies as well as blended (real/virtual)
teaching/learning./consulting/mentoring environments.
2. Moreover, in the case of a country like Greece, a local, regional and global perspective would be critical,
given the small size of the local market. In this regard, Greece should pursue an effective and efficient
strategic integration of its knowledge-generating assets in the universities (this is also further discussed)
as well as its industry and its government sectors and leverage them fully along with EU and Greek
Diaspora resources, expertise and experience to promote the creation of a new breed of start-ups
(preferably—but not exclusively—as high technology as is sustainable technologically and commercially).
3. These start-ups would aim to form a critical mass of an entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem in the form
of locally and globally inter-networked and competitive firms that would more organically and sustainably
allow Greek innovators and entrepreneurs to tap and expand into the world’s markets while remaining,
researching, and creating in Greece.
4. I have called this concept “co-location” in the sense that it aims to retain the knowledge creators and
potential entrepreneurs based in their mother country while enabling them to set up a bridgehead and
become active in larger markets such as the U.S. I have been doing this for the last five years with some
success with Hellenic high tech spin-offs from Research and Development Centers and Universities in
Greece co-locating in the U.S.
5. A balanced approach with a win-win-win mindset is key, combining short-term with long-term
considerations. People, culture and technology need to be organically aligned so that resources used
lead to results obtained in as short-term a context as possible to establish credibility and gain cooperation
and support from civil society.
6. For that, top level champions are needed as well as a strategic leveraging of social networking structures
and infra-structures. In the past, regions around the world—whether the Silicon Valley in California, or the
Route 128 region in the Boston area or others—have been identified as success benchmarks for
innovation and entrepreneurship—however, simply emulating those has not always led to successful
results as people and culture are finicky and there are higher order inter-dependencies and complexities
involved.

Ministry for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
7. Here are some ideas as to how to set up policies and frameworks to provide as conducive as possible
conditions for the creation of a sustainable and competitive Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystem:
o Advocate the need for a non-political, institutionally and meritocratically established entity that
would function as part of the government in Greece and all other EU countries and could be
called “Ministry for Innovation and Entrepreneurship” but set up in a flexible manner to avoid
becoming part of the problem.
o Advocate the need for an “Ombudsman for Entrepreneurs and Innovators” with proper authority,
visibility and resources to intervene and resolve barriers to Innovation and Entrepreneurship
(E&I) in Greece and across the EU (this is the institutional civil society role in support of E&I as
part of the Quadruple Innovation Helix concept (Carayannis and Campbell, International
Journal of Technology Management, Spring 2009) – government, university and industry
working effectively with civil society to support and promote E&I).
Global Hellenic Diaspora Angel Investor Network and The Global Hellenic Diaspora Bond
Issue for Entrepreneurs & Innovators
o Advocate the need for high caliber volunteers among the Hellenic Diaspora as mentors as well
as potential risk capital investors and strategic partners—in this context, I would propose
forming a “Global Hellenic Diaspora Angel Investor Network” and “The Global Hellenic Diaspora
Bond Issue for Entrepreneurs & Innovators” and to have the funds managed by a professional
entity that is subject to the Diaspora members in a transparent and efficient manner. The intent
would be to allow for a pooling of resources, so along with large scale donations, many smallsize
but cumulatively substantial contributions could start being made on a streamlined and
sustainable basis and always focused on supporting and promoting Entrepreneurship and
Innovation initiatives and efforts (a working case of that can already be seen in Denmark where
a micro-finance and micro-enterprise fund—“My C 4”—is already succeeding to pool thousands
of investors with thousands of entrepreneurs leveraging social networking and clear vision and
execution (www.mc4.org).

Entrepreneurs of the Mind

8. My descriptions of entrepreneurs and academics, based on 20 years of experience working with
academics as well as entrepreneurs, are as follows:
o that entrepreneurs exhibit strongly the attributes of “obsessed maniacs” focused on realizing
their vision and “clairvoyant oracles” seeing the opportunities and how to exploit them ahead of
all others and being able to share that vision effectively with their key partners, investors and
other early stakeholders (Carayannis, GWU Lectures, 2000-2010, Carayannis and Formica,
Intellectual Venture Capitalists, Industry and Higher Education, 2008)—case in point is
someone I met at the Innovation-driven Entrepreneurship conference in Vilnius recently—
Daniel Williamson and the venture “Connections” he is helping develop further (www.cnx.org).
o that academics ideally should be “entrepreneurs of the mind in the business of growing people
intellectually and spiritually” (Carayannis, Higher Education Manifesto, Industry and Higher
Education, 2007)—facilitators of a lot of “happy accidents”, that is knowledge exchanges and
partnerships being spawned in the context of this event.
o Based on these descriptions, one should aim to inspire, empower and liberate the individual
aspiring entrepreneurs (whether academic researchers and/or graduate students in science
and engineering as well as other fields) to dare to dream big and dream in
scientific/technological as well as commercial terms and to dare to take the next huge step of
forming a company and asking people to invest in their dreams.
o One of the ways to do so would be to establish across all of Greece’s universities inter-linked,
complementary and reinforcing, cross-disciplinary graduate degrees focused on
Entrepreneurship and Innovation with emphasis on practice and aiming to produce at their
conclusion working prototypes in the related science and engineering fields of the participants
(from medical devices to agricultural techniques to software programs) and provide support and
guidance for proper follow through leading to the establishment of intellectual property rights
(patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets) as well as the formation of companies to
commercialize those prototypes. These companies should be supported by Advisory Boards as
well as potential investors from both internal/domestic networks as well as the Hellenic
Diaspora including the Global Hellenic Diaspora Angel Investor Network and others.

(Includes excerpts adapted from a longer version published in the Springer journal of the knowledge economy,
September 2011 as well as the international journal of innovation and regional development, December 2010)