innovation

Why Rhode Island? It’s a Hotbed of Design Thinking and Innovation 

 

If you could track innovation with a heatmap, Rhode Island would be on fire. As home of the Industrial Revolution, innovation is baked into our DNA, but what’s more important is that the state is still actively cultivating creativity, both on the Innovation Campus being built with the University of Rhode Island and through our Innovation Voucher program. The latter allows companies with fewer than 500 employees to receive grants of up to $50,000 to fund R&D assistance from a local university, research center or medical center. Our state also offers Industry Cluster Grants to encourage companies in a sector to work together to solve problems, exchange ideas and develop talent.

 

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Little Rhody is exciting for many reasons, but entrepreneurs and business leaders associated with the state inevitably say that they’re most thrilled by our unique and long-running capacity for design thinking and innovation. Here’s what some of them have said on the subject in recent months:

 

“We actually didn’t invent anything new. There’s nothing proprietary about what we do as a company. It was really translating what RISD teaches so well. It was being able to see two different things, and recombine them in a new and different way.” —Joe Gebbia, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) graduate and cofounder of Airbnb

 

“One unique attribute in Rhode Island is design thinking. It’s absolutely essential; you can’t commoditize design or human creativity. In the age of the algorithm and A.I., anything that can be crunched will be crunched, but design rests on human creativity. Design, storytelling and the creation of empathy and relationships will become the most valuable scarcity.” —Andrew Keen, author/speaker/Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur

 

“Rhode Island excels in design, whether it’s tech design or traditional design, and we punch above our weight in engineering, between what’s coming out of Brown and the University of Rhode Island.” —Jon Duffy, president of Duffy & Shanley

 

“One of the things the Chamber has done over the past few years is convene people who have an interest in innovation—that had never been done before—folks in academics and business and government and research and development. The role they’re playing is very unique because they’re asking some very interesting questions: What does it take for entrepreneurs and young companies to be thriving and successful? And how can companies like mine enable those companies in a larger ecosystem?” —Donna Cupelo, regional president of New England at Verizon Communications Inc.

 

“The Community College of Rhode Island students epitomize innovation. When I think about innovation, I think about out-of-the-box thinking and resourcefulness, and in order to be an effective community college student you need to figure out how to work a couple of jobs, support your family and be a successful college student, so it’s just baked into their DNA. … They’re working in spaces that are very digitally driven, where they’re being required to really innovate on the move in order to serve the kind of employers that they’re going to go on to serve once they cross our graduation stage.” —Dr. Megan Hughes, president of Community College of Rhode Island

 

“There’s only one Silicon Valley. There only ever will be. We’d be ill-advised to try to replicate it. We have our own unique assets, and yet we can also draw upon that other fount of innovation in the country at the moment, Boston and Cambridge.” —Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island secretary of commerce

 

“There are a couple of drivers behind our innovative mindset. When we think about Rhode Island being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution 200 plus years ago and then we think of creating, designing and building the Block Island Wind Farm in 2016, [you can see that] it’s in our DNA. We have to innovate. It’s who we are. And it’s a really small state so the great part about being small among many is that we have a huge concentration of talent here [who are] furthering this design thinking and innovation.” —Kim Keck, president and CEO of BCBS RI

 

“Without question, there’s a sense of innovation amongst our higher education institutions. A lot of our colleges and universities in the state are on the cutting edge in thinking about how to do curricular renewal and how to change the quality of the collegiate experience so that we’re preparing graduates who are more engaged and have more relevant skill sets and talent to engage with today’s economy.” —Frank Sanchez, president of Rhode Island College

 

The ability to solve problems in creative and innovative ways can be a game-changer for an organization. We invite you to visit our EntrepreneurProvidenceRI.com site to dive into the talent opportunities in our state. 

 

FinTech Firm eMoney Now Sourcing Providence Talent

FinTech firm eMoney is expanding into Providence. The wealth management technology company is opening a new office at 100 Westminster Street, with positions already being filled for the site. 

Located in a 20-story commercial building in the Financial District, the office’s downtown views paired with nearly 7,000 square feet of rented space, provide an atmosphere that is conducive to fostering the collaboration and innovation that eMoney is known for both as an employer and as a leading provider of scalable wealth management technology. 

The new office location stems from the firm’s rapid growth over the last few years and desire to explore a new talent market in the Northeast. 

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“This is just the beginning of our journey in Rhode Island,” said Ed O’Brien, CEO of eMoney. “We’re excited to get the office up and running, becoming an integral part of the Providence community and tapping its extensive network of talent. We’re proud to expand our eMoney team so we can continue to innovate and meet the needs of our clients.”

As previously announced by Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation in March, eMoney is committed to bringing 100 full-time jobs to the state by 2020. The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce stands ready to assist the firm with its hiring needs.

“We welcome eMoney to their new Providence office,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “With workforce training and economic development as top priorities, we have added 14,000 jobs since taking office, and regained all the jobs lost during the Great Recession. Additions to the state like eMoney show Rhode Island is on the move.”

eMoney already has 10 employees set to work in the Providence office by mid-August, and extensive recruiting efforts are underway to fill open roles in software development, user interface and experience design, software testing and quality engineering, and product management, among others.

“Providence continues to demonstrate that it has the talent, quality of life, and momentum that businesses are looking for,” said Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “I’m excited to welcome a fast-growing company like eMoney Advisor to the capital city and wish them success in the years to come.”

eMoney has two other office locations in the U.S. Its corporate headquarters located just outside of Philadelphia in Radnor, Pa., has more than 400 employees on-site serving all areas of the business, including software development, financial planning, security and data services, sales, client engagement, marketing, finance, and human resources, among others. The firm’s West Coast office located in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, Ca., is home to approximately 60 employees who work in client engagement, sales and financial planning.

To learn more about eMoney’s open positions in Providence, visit here.

 

RI's Broadband Capabilities Drive Entrepreneurship

For those of you who love rankings, check out this interesting report from the U.S. Chamber Foundation. It shows Rhode Island coming in at #2 overall on the metric "innovation and entrepreneurship." If you've read through the pages of this website, it won't surprise you that our strengths are most pronounced in academic R&D and broadband.

 They point out that "years of challenges in manufacturing industries have compelled the Ocean State to look toward opportunities based in technology and knowledge-based jobs to diversify and strengthen its economy. Those efforts have been helped along by the state’s status as a national leader in broadband access.

Rhode Island also now ranks high in STEM job concentration and high-tech job concentration as a share of total jobs. Governor Gina Raimondo founded the state’s first venture capital fund, and has made innovation, skills development, and entrepreneurship priorities of her economic development strategy," the report concludes.

And the good news doesn't stop there. The Gallup organization, too, is eyeing Rhode Island. They've seen the big wins we're putting up on the board with major U.S. consumer brands investing in Rhode Island. As such, we have rocketed from #50 to #28 on a recent nationwide index measuring job creation. We commend all the risk takers in Rhode Island that are driving our entrepreneurial genius. Keep innovating.