Orignally shared in the Rainforest Alberta Pulse in March 2018, the following post discusses the value of Diversity to cultivating and supporting Innovators.
How does access to Free Help benefit the invisible innovation infrastructure?
Nothing in life is truly free. That is why we are so blessed to have experienced entrepreneurs, service providers, and investors in the Alberta Innovation Ecosystem who are willing and able to provide the benefit of their time and knowledge to help emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs.
The investment of time and knowledge doesn't just come from the experienced individuals in the ecosystem either. Those seeking help, collaborators, or new ideas need to put in the effort to attend events, embrace collisions with new people, and be open to both sharing their ideas and asking for help or advice.
In the book "The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley", authors Hwang and Horowitt discuss how to measure the velocity of innovation in an ecosystem (the speed with which innovation happens). This 'heartbeat' can be measured through a variety of proxies such as Diversity, Extra-Rational Motivation, Social Trust, and Interpretation of Rules within the System (the Social Contract). Receiving and providing help, without expecting anything in return, is an example of individuals within the innovation ecosystem acting with a greater purpose, or extra-rational motivation. It is this motivation to help others that defines the culture of the Rainforest. As James Keirstead often says, "all boats rise with the tide". When individuals take it upon themselves to find or provide help to each other, the tide will rise, and everyone benefits.
The tide rises not only by providing free help, but by freely sharing ideas, introductions to resources, advice, and more. This is why the Rainforest acts to bring all aspects of the innovation ecosystem together on a regular basis. By creating collisions, encouraging the sharing of ideas, needs, and capability to give back, we increase the velocity of trust building, resulting in an increased rate of innovation in Alberta.