The innovation economy, a reason for optimism

With change enveloping our lives at an ever-increasing pace, there is enormous potential to continue to produce more meaningful societal advances faster. The scale of the challenges we face also gives rise to innovations with bolder and deeper goals. Working with some of the most innovative companies in the world and those who invest in their success, I see change and possibility every day.

Leaders and entrepreneurs in the innovation economy are thinking harder and smarter about how we prepare to adapt and help others adapt to a more connected and technically savvy world. We see firsthand how these deep tech advancements are creating entirely new industries and pathways to employment.


As we, the innovation economy, invest in the future, it is our responsibility as business and industry leaders who champion technology and positive disruption to ask the tough questions: how can innovation produce more benefits for more people? What is the impact when these innovations are introduced to the world? What economic opportunities are there in these evolving job-creating ecosystems?


What makes me optimistic about our collective future is how I see innovation bridging, not widening, divisions. What if we attract people who may never have thought of a career in technology or life sciences, let alone have the chance to train for the tech workforce? What if the innovation economy became more and more accessible to everyone? What if the problems they tackle serve a bolder and deeper purpose?

I see this happening among the industries we have the privilege of working with, and I think the innovation ecosystem is about to offer a lot more opportunities.

For example, consider the multiplier benefits of a new fossil fuel post-fuel transportation system. By 2030, electric vehicles are expected to account for half of new car sales in the United States, and for such a transition, automakers are poised to make investments of half a trillion dollars. The deep innovation wheel creates a variety of spinoffs and new jobs, from making batteries and electric vehicle charging stations to repairing them.

Consider this story of a South Central Los Angeles CEO who embodies the spirit and ingenuity that inspires action for a greater good. Have you ever wondered what happens when EV charging stations break down? Kameale Terry knows it: in her old job, she received calls day and night from upset motorists, but often struggled to find enough qualified repair crews.

More frustrating, she said, was the lack of green jobs for people in the neighborhood she grew up in, despite many promises. She developed a program and began training teams at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator, a public-private partnership. The seed of his company ChargerHelp! was planted in 2020 (with financial support from the incubator): an on-demand app that EV charging manufacturers use to deploy its trained teams, now in 11 states managing 20,000 charging stations.

Kameale co-founder Evette Ellis previously worked as a career transition and outreach specialist for the Labor Department’s Job Corps program, and many of their employees are found through workforce development programs. ‘work. Even in a tight job market, ChargerHelp! received more than 1,600 applications for 20 repair crew positions, which pay $30 per hour. Courage and problem solving are what they seek. “These are the people who are going to make the next big companies. But if they weren’t exposed to clean tech, or two black female founders, or even just tech, they couldn’t even dream of their ideals,” she says. Simply put, we want to “redefine the standards of business. You can still be profitable, you can still pay your frontline workers well, and you can help society – the normal things a business should do.


Here’s the takeaway for me: Innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It requires visionaries and changemakers with ambitious goals to create profound technological innovations, and it also requires many layers of support such as a well-trained workforce, a healthy investment ecosystem and the engagement of communities, schools and policy makers to keep the promise. of the invention.

I am fortunate to spend many of my days with entrepreneurs and investors, and many tell me that they are increasingly optimistic about the potential of innovation to create solutions, precisely because the stakes do not only increase if we don’t.

Regardless of industry or business model, working with a higher purpose will serve us all as we adapt to our rapidly changing world. As Kameale reminds us, these are “normal things” that companies should do.

Greg Becker is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SVB.

This article originally appeared in the Milken Institute’sThe power of ideasseries.

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