Cincinnati USA Regional ChamberGrowing the vibrancy and
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In This Issue:


    October 09, 2012

    Innovation: Q&A with Ben Martz

    Martz, BenThere are many transformative initiatives taking place right now that are intended to drive innovation and entrepreneurialism in the region. Among those is an effort by the Cincinnati Business Committee, which was motivated by work of Agenda 360 and Vision 2015, called Cintrifuse.

    Cintrifuse will move into a building in Over-the-Rhine and work with partner organizations such as CincyTech, the Brandery and the Chamber to expand services to entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.

    In the cover story in the current issue of ChamberConnect, the Chamber spoke with leaders about the importance of the innovation economy. While the responses were edited for space, the complete Q&A with each leader will appear in ChamberCurrents.

    This week's Q&A is with Ben Martz, chair of the Department of Business Informatics at Northern Kentucky University. 

    What do people mean when they talk about an "innovation economy" and why are we all suddenly talking about it around here?

    The discussion around an "innovation economy" center on the family of concepts including creativity and problem solving. In general, creativity and problem solving in the technology fields tend to refer to innovation. Creativity and problem solving in the business fields tend to refer to entrepreneurship. These traits are highly valued by our society. We are suddenly talking about these - innovation and entrepreneurship - because we feel these are ways to energize people into action.  Companies see rewarding creativity in the workplace this as a way to encourage their employees. Students see these traits as more exciting skill sets.

    How does NKU and specifically Informatics, contribute to the innovation economy here?

    NKU and the College of Informatics are in the forefront of getting students the skill sets for the "innovation economy." Yes, we still categorize course and programs by major, but key skills needed by graduates to operate in the innovation economy are spread throughout these courses and the courses throughout the curricula.

    This is no more apparent than in the majors found in the College of Informatics which concentrate on "information as a resource."  These majors educate students how to deal with the premier resource needed in today's world - information.  In addition to the skills covered in classes, we recommend and support students to seek out and take internships and coops with companies or to get hands-on experience with NKU's Center for Applied Informatics. In all cases, we are organizing NKU's resources (faculty, buildings, curricula, etc.) to build the student that can take advantage of and work week in the innovation economy.

    What does an improved climate of innovation mean for the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky business community - and our quality of life as a
    whole?

    The explicit recognition that innovation (creativity, entrepreneurship, problem solving, etc.) are key and desired skills will have companies looking for areas that embrace learning environments for those skills. One of those environments is NKU and its College of Informatics. In turn, this makes the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky business community more appealing because it has one of the necessary resources for companies. Once companies are seen taking advantage of the environment (hiring students, sponsoring research, creating spin-offs, etc.), it will raise the appeal for students to enter and graduate from the corresponding programs. Then the cycle repeats itself - and improves the quality of life in the region.

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