Dr Linda L. Singh, who has had an outstanding career in the public and the private sectors, shared her extensive experience at the “Building the Virus-Resistant Company” conference organised by the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with Ülemiste City.
Dr Singh, the first female Major General in the Maryland National Guard (retired) with over 30 years of practical experience in strategic management and consulting encouraged everybody at the end of her presentation to be braver in the current uncertain times.
“If you are, for example, a student and wish to solve the problems created by the pandemic, but are hesitant on whether to become an entrepreneur, then I would say: the time is now! When we look back in history, we see that innovation, bold ideas, and creating new technologies and pushing them out to the market help us most successfully to move forward from the darkness into new normality,” said the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kaleidoscope Affect, a global consulting company that works together with Towson University, one of the top 100 universities in the US.
In the questions round, she remembered visiting an innovation centre in Tallinn and bringing ideas from there back to the US, which ultimately led to high-level international cooperation. “The Lieutenant Governor of the State of Maryland went to Tallinn in person and met many other entrepreneurs and then hosted them then in the State of Maryland.”
Openness and creativity create the necessary culture of innovation
Dr Linda L. Singh’s presentation “Entrepreneur Landscape – The Beauty of Change” discussed the different factors in creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and offered powerful examples in the field of technology transfer, research and development.
“It doesn’t matter whether you are a start-up that has just entered the market, an academic institution, or a large or small company, you need to ensure that you foster the development of a culture of innovation within the company. This important management tool combines significant motivation promoting factors: a change in thinking and behaviour and a wish to do something, or change something. Fuelling a culture of innovation creates a new, amazing power and a common vision of the future within an organisation, and it may ultimately change the entire entrepreneur landscape,” stressed Dr Singh. “Without a vision, you create new problems instead of opportunities and growth.”
How to create a culture of innovation? Dr Singh: “Similar thinking, behaviour and identity with a powerful energy force. The role of managers is to give the green light to openness and creativity!”
Dr Singh described in detail the importance of small companies in creating a consistent growth environment and gave examples she has witnessed in her home state.
“We cannot ignore the legal and political factors. This is why we constantly involve legislators in the building of a better entrepreneur landscape to ensure that their decisions do not work against the development of small businesses, research and development, and talents and, consequently, the whole of society,” she explained. “Creating a relevant legal framework is a very hot topic here – it is important that regulations keep pace with the development of technology and do not discourage it.”
Dr Singh acknowledged that research and development in the US has become significantly more efficient in the last couple of years. “Now they are not turning on a very slow cycle but have learned how to get an initial idea to the market much faster. This concerns software development as well as the manufacturing side. The old, manual model has been replaced with high technology,” she said in introducing the economic environment over there. “All over the country there are so-called government labs that are constantly working with researchers and entrepreneurs to bring in new ideas. A truly efficient initiative is given financing.”
The key question: how to push tomorrow’s technologies to the market today?
Dr Singh emphasised the future importance of building multi connected bridges.
“To bring tomorrow’s technologies to market, it is necessary to simplify the process and build stronger connections between the different players in the technology transfer marketplace, for example the research community and the business community. The more efficient involvement of non-profit organisations in the entrepreneurship chain would also significantly enhance cooperation.”
In her opinion, the key point is in bringing the processes to the level where “they become a natural part of our everyday thinking and activity.” “We often see that good ideas stay in that stage of ideas. Usually, in these cases, the reason is simple: people do not know how to move them forward. Therefore, creating a functioning community and assisting methods is important,” said Dr Singh and gave an example from Maryland: “Here we have created entrepreneurial centres where all public and academic institutions can come together. It is a very collaborative and open space where individuals can be part of creating the big picture.”