Orignally shared in the first Rainforest Alberta Pulse in February 2018, the following post discusses the value of Diversity to cultivating and supporting Innovators.
Why is Diversity important to an innovation-based economy?
Diversity can mean a number of things, from age, race, religion, skillset, gender, career experience, educational training, personality, sexual orientation, and a number of other factors.
In the book "The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley", authors Hwang and Horowitt discuss diversity as an axiom, or prerequisite condition of creating a thriving innovation ecosystem. They state that "the greater the diversity in human specialization, the greater the potential value of exchanges in a system". That is to say that increasing diversity among an ecosystem will increase the value of collaboration or business ventures created within that ecosystem.
But why is this the case?
As individuals with highly differentiated abilities, worldviews, networks, and social backgrounds connect, they are able to build teams which can benefit from the specialized insights of each member to create something far greater than the sum of its parts. As the authors put it, "diversity trumps raw ability for problem-solving in groups."
This is why it is important for the Rainforest to embrace diversity, in all of its forms, and why it is a core value expressed in the Social Contract.
How ETS and Outbreaker Solutions are working together to trial a new technology in the real world
By Aaron Budnick and Joel Magalnick
At Rainforest Alberta, we believe passionately that innovation is vital to the future economic prosperity of the Province, and all the large municipalities within it, especially for Edmonton and Calgary.
A recently announced project between Edmonton Transit and Outbreaker Solutions is a particularly excellent example of how the government can best support innovative or emerging technologies and other solutions; by partnering with the innovators to give them real world data, a first customer, and vital initial exposure!
In short, Edmonton Transit Services (ETS) is partnering with local biotech company Outbreaker Solutions to install their sodium-chloride-based surfaces in a number of bus and LRT facilities across the City of Edmonton.
The technology is a compressed salt push-plate that, according to Outbreaker, “kills the majority of germs, including viruses, bacteria and fungi in just a few seconds, due to the salt crystals piercing the membrane walls of the germs, effectively neutralizing them.” The company posted about this technology in June 2020 and has been testing its pilot since.
This six-month pilot project is intended to determine the efficacy, durability and cost-effectiveness of these plates in reducing the spread of diseases. Whether or not this product works as expected, this is the perfect example of a win-win!
Edmontonians taking transit, or using transit facilities, to move around the downtown pedway system will benefit by the reduction in risk of using doors that could potentially have active virus or bacteria on them!
Anything that can assist public safety by reducing the potential transmissibility of these diseases is a win for all of us.
A local biotech company is getting valuable data to prove their technology in a real-world application. This provides them the ability to gain recognition for their technology, spread the word to other potential clients, and assuming that everything goes as planned, they may get a first customer for this technology. It is not inconceivable that this works so well that the City and other local property owners start installing this on more doors in high traffic areas.
The City of Edmonton, and ETS, are able to demonstrate leadership by simultaneously improving customer safety, which assists our local economy by increasing accessibility and mobility for people of all age and ability, as well as boosting the profile of innovators in our own backyard.
Edmonton needs more of this. The cost to ETS to participate in this pilot program was likely extremely low. The benefit to everyone involved to trial this technology might be immeasurable.
Unlike a lot of other more structured government grant and entrepreneur support programs, any government employee or agency could potentially consider implementing a project like this. The costs are almost certainly less on a per project basis than the average grant contribution, not even taking into account program overhead. The impact and real-world applicability of these projects is almost immediate once the pilot rolls out, and scales up with time if the technology works out, unlike grants that can take years to see fruition.
The City of Edmonton has committed themselves to supporting innovators numerous times, it is extremely reassuring to see an example of that happening! We, at the Rainforest, cannot wait to see more of these projects get announced, hopefully this is the first of thousands of similar projects from the City of Edmonton, the Province, and the Federal government.
Working from home: Deep Space Three
A Guest Post by Howard SuissaEveryone has advice about being productive when working from home. People share best practices like they share influencer pandemic workouts. You too can be as productive and beautiful as me—if you subscribe to the notion that I know what the hell I’m talking about. Hit “Like” now and subscribe so you too can be unproductive as you read my productivity production.
I can honestly say that I’ve never worked in an office in a career position. Working for myself, in my own space, has always been my world. Sure, I work on teams. I meet with clients and suppliers. I’ve worked from my home office and on-site. In every situation, I’ve been responsible for being as productive as I possibly can without the structure that no longer surrounds most people in the way they’re accustomed to.
So here is my list of Top Three Things That Keep Me Productive.
1. HeadspaceYou are only as productive as you want to be. No one’s looking over your shoulder, you don’t need to impress anyone with your head down at the local coffee shop. Get into the headspace that the only person you have to impress with your productivity is you. I end every day by making a To-Do list for tomorrow. One that is actually doable. I only put things on it that I can absolutely accomplish in the daily timeframe. I break big projects into day-long tasks and get them done. I’ve found that having a list of two or three things that I actually clean off is better for my headspace and attitude than having a list of 10 things that rollover day to day.
I start every day like I mean it. You need to find your new routine. Don’t base it on your old routine. Spend a bit of time to really, truly design your new-reality routine. How do you schedule your commute decompression into your day when you don’t commute? What start time makes sense to your new rhythm? What self-care do you need during the day to keep a good rhythm going?
Kids – I can’t really speak to that. I don’t have any. I can only imagine that they’re different than dealing with cats.
2. WorkspaceNot everyone can have the luxury of a fully-featured home office. But you don’t need one. You only need one from X-a.m. to Y-p.m., then pack it up and go home. The kitchen is a coffee shop, the living room is a boardroom, the dining room is a restaurant. I take my laptop from the office when I go for a coffee and make it an hour or hour-and-a-half excursion to the kitchen. This isn’t a laundry break. Don’t put away the dishes. These space shifts tie into #1 above. You’re in your headspace that just happens to be where your home is, in its parts, but aren’t your home during the hours of X to Y.
I find that finishing one task creates a great opportunity to make a move to the “coffee shop,” so to speak. This physical separation matches the mental one as I move from one thing to another. Grabbing my notebook, or laptop and taking a coffee break to the kitchen lets me decompress from the last task and allows me to plan for the next. When I get back to my desk, work starts in earnest.
Kids… Yeah, again… now part of the workspace. I hate to say this is a you problem, but…
3. BodyspaceI’ve found over the years that having a standing desk has been one of the single greatest things I’ve done for myself. If you look at the design of furniture, especially the desks most of us have in our homes, the dimensions were designed back in the 1700s—for writing. Sure, you can get a computer desk with an under-mounted keyboard tray… which sucks. Or you can get your legs out from under the desk, then put your keyboard and monitor into the perfect positions.
If you do move to a standing desk, plan on doing it over a period of time. You can’t run a marathon without going for a jog a couple of times first. Or something like that. Get a pair of comfortable shoes and take breaks at your “coffee shop” to take a seat. Step back and forth as you think. Dance. Do Figure 4 glute stretches.
I slip my shoes on and off during the day and do tree pose during video conferences. It has become a game to see how long I can stand on one leg.