Innovator: rupture of stereotypes

Інноватор: крах стереотипів

What innovator stands for? How old is he, what is his gender, how educated is he? Do the government entities help or hinder him? How important is the science for innovations? Researchers at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) have studied the data on American innovators and gave answers to all these questions.

There is a stereotype that the innovator is a young man, startup creator, who, perhaps, has dropped out from school and started doing business early. This is expressly evidenced by the most demonstrative examples from the Silicon Valley. One would think that Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates reinforce this argument. However, the stereotypes are famous for having false data or exaggerations.

The ITIF decided to clarify by the way of trial how old is the American innovator. 6,418 innovators got invitation to participate in the survey, and 923 of them has agreed to share data about themselves. The survey of nearly one thousand of persons led to the results that rupture the embedded stereotypes.

It turned out that immigrants run the innovative show in the USA: more than one third of innovators (35.5%) were born outside the America, and albeit the fact that 10% of them are American-born citizens, have at least one migrant parent. What is more, over 17% of local innovators are not the US citizens at all. There are roughly five times more innovators, who were born in Europe and Asia, than their colleagues of American descent.

INNOVATORS ARE MEN OF MIDDLE AND OLD AGE

Innovators are men of middle and old age. Only 12% of innovators are women, the average age of the American innovator is 47. These are highly-educated experts: four out of five innovators possess at least one advanced degree, and 55% have attained a Ph.D. in a STEM (acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) innovators are more likely to hold graduate degrees in these specialties from public universities than private ones. Widely recognized the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has educated more innovators than any other educational establishment.

THE MEDIAN AGE FOR INNOVATORS IS 47

American innovators are proactive and successful: two out of five innovations, developed by them, are introduced to the market, and one-quarter have generated over $25 mln in total revenue. American innovators cite insufficient funds, market factors, and government regulation as barriers on their way towards success.  

INNOVATOR HAS HIGHER EDUCATION

It is interesting to note that 20% of innovators have cooperated with several institutions. Half of them were public-private partnerships between private companies and universities or government research labs. Public research labs were involved in 13% of innovations, while the universities have supported another 7% of innovations. Thus, statistics proves the assertion that researchers, scientists, and innovators shall have government assistance – and only then the success will be achieved.

MAJOR COMPANIES IMPLEMENT MOST OF THE INNOVATIONS

Yet another stereotype says that innovators are the guys, who assemble something amazing at the garage using whatever is available. The survey has shown that major companies are actively involved in innovations it is popularly believed that they are the “sharks”, who take over small businesses and copy ready models created by young and active but financially struggling innovators.

Thus, approximately 60% of private-sector innovations originate from businesses with more than 500 employees, and only 16% – from small business, firms with fewer than 25 employees. Moreover, more than half of the small innovative companies did not “set against the wind” – in some or other way they got support from the state or non-governmental organizations, inclusive of grants, awards for the participation in federal innovation programs, etc.

MORE THAN HALF OF SMALL INNOVATION COMPANIES GOT FINANCIAL SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT AND FOUNDATIONS

The complete survey may be found at ITIF website.

As a reminder, a short time ago Innovation House held round-table discussion “Science, business, innovations. Who is in charge here?”, where innovative entrepreneurs, investors and scientists discussed, inter alia, the issue on who is able to invest in business in Ukraine.