In the U.S., everyone is buzzing about education innovation
and the i3 (Investing
in Innovation fund) grants from the US Dept of Education. Proposals are due
in May, and the selection process promises to be VERY competitive. But what
will happen to all the terrific ideas that go unfunded? What about the innovative
efforts that only have "emerging evidence" so far?
Maybe I've been breathing too much Silicon Valley air,
but I think education innovators need some "Adventure
Real innovation is messy, and there is often a lot of iteration and experimentation before The Big Controlled Experiment. Innovation also often begins in modest ways in modest places, like some of the Big Ideas that started in garages - literally. Disruptive innovations can be
even more surprising, arising from entirely outside "the system" (Christensen, Horn,
and Johnson, in "Disrupting Class").
So while some ideas are ready for large scale funding from governments, we also
must be intentional in order that No Great Idea is Left Behind (NGILB - consider
this my donation to the archive of education reform acronyms).
Enter the idea of "Adventure Capital", which I define as
"startup funding and support that serves as a catalyst to accelerate great
ideas, enabling a marvelous adventure of innovation and amazing possibilities".
Like venture capital, there are risks - but the potential outcomes are worth
the investment - and like any adventure, you start with a plan, and then expect to
I suppose this is characteristic of the grant-making
that comes out of our Office of Global Social Innovation. We target the change
we hope to see, and then collaborate with thought-leaders who are bold,
thoughtful, creative, and passionate about making a positive impact. Perhaps
this is why "social innovation" and "adventure capital" go so well together.
After all, making the world a better place is one of the grandest adventures of
Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
HP Office of Global Social Innovation
For information about the HP Office of Global Social Innovations, visit www.hp.com/hpinfo/grants