Innovation Reimagined

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We See...

We took a good look around the innovation ecosystem, and this is what we see:

  • Communities outside of major centres not as entrepreneurial, and economic growth is not equitable across all regions
  • First time innovators (who are often researchers, programmers, academics, artisans) are forced to become entrepreneurs to commercialize their ideas, which is hard to do and results in leaving a vast amount of innovation on the table. Both public and private business incubators and accelerators rely on the “innovator as entrepreneur” model, which produces limited results.
  • Our economic system has created inequality by prioritizing wealth creation over environmental sustainability and positive social outcomes (e.g. gender and race equality, healthcare outcomes, housing and homelessness, food security, natural resource management)
  • Angel investment and Venture Capital doesn’t scale well, its out there, but not available to the many, and especially hard to access for companies with great ideas but are not yet generating revenue. Often Venture Capital investment results in company ownership and operations being relocation, often to the United States.
  • Consumers don’t have much ability to participate in the innovation economy unless they are accredited high-net worth investors (Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists). A majority of consumer investment is in institutional funds which prioritize shareholder return and commonly offshore the vast majority of their portfolios to foreign investments or blue chip stocks. Small companies do not have the capitalization to list on stock markets, which would make them open to direct consumer investment.
  • There is a vast amount of institutional endowment (e.g. university) and foundation investment principal is sitting in bank accounts not being put to work in their communities.
  • We are currently reliant on government to understand and make good economic decisions that benefit everyone. We have given government the powers to invest on our behalf (e.g. through its pension funds and budget allocations). For example, In British Columbia Canada, less than 1% of its $170 billion public sector pension fund is invested in Canadian private equity. Government investment is spread across a wide range of priorities and, in British Columbia for example, is heavily rooted in supporting long-held positions in resource extraction and real estate – a scenario that is likely somewhat consistent globally. Government has not traditionally used its vast resources to be a significant player in the innovation ecosystem, which could be achieved by diversifying its investments into other industries. We are now questioning the value of those decisions as they have played out over time. We need to stop relying on government to lead economic change and lead more strongly through the private sector.
  • We offshore a majority of government and consumer investment, it’s put to work developing the economies of other nations. We are not investing enough in our own economy in ways that can scale (e.g. in home-grown, scalable innovation).
  • In British Columbia 98% of business is small business, but only 17% of those businesses have over 4 employees. 83% of our small businesses haven’t scaled. Small business employment accounts for 53% of the 2.1 million private sector jobs in British Columbia, this percentage hasn’t changed in over 15 years. We’re not leveraging our strong intellectual and investment capital to scale this sector.
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We Believe...

This sober reflection of our current economy highlights that the status quo is no longer acceptable, in fact it never has been. We need to help unstick our economy by creating a new source of innovation investment capital and commercialization systems.

  • Inequality is everywhere – the distribution of wealth has to evolve more quickly
  • Our societal version of “success” (i.e. shareholder value) is skewed and perpetuates inequality
  • We have responsibility to not continue the system that causes inequality
  • We are undergoing a societal shift in values where there needs to be a voluntary and values-based redistribution of wealth (it’s no longer cool to be rich)
  • Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals is essential for sustainable economic growth, and represents huge new economic opportunity
  • Endowment and foundation investment belongs in the community, not in a bank account.
  • “Innovator” does not equal “Entrepreneur”; the path to commercialization for Innovators takes too long, we need an alternative path to market
  • Venture capital doesn’t scale well – private equity benefits a few but not a lot. It doesn’t build local economies well enough, it doesn’t address inequality in our economy at scale
  • There is enough money to go around, collectively we have more than enough resources that nobody should be “without”
  • The current economic model is not serving us well (but instead other nations and often in unsustainable ways)
  • There is enough opportunity – there is a lot of value left on the table
  • There is enough interest, but there are not enough channels to execute on this… yet

The change we want to see...

Project X aims to play a leadership role in challenging the status quo. The Project X Way is additive to our current ecosystem, it can operate alongside our entrenched systems and create change right now and instigate broader change in the future, achieving a new, more sustainable, economic ecosystem. Project X has pinpointed three key gaps that led us to hypothesize an alternative path:

Accessible, Place-Based Investment Vehicles

  • Make investment in our own economy (place-based investment) more accessible to alternative sources of investment capital such as consumer investment, endowment/foundation funds, pension funds, for example through a publicly listed investment holding company that invests in innovation here at home
  • Make capital more accessible to early-stage innovations to bring innovations to market and grow faster
  • Use investment as a tool to identify, prioritize and realize opportunities that create more sustainable benefits for all citizens

Accelerate Innovation Commercialization

  • Focus innovation commercialization in areas of demonstrated current and predicted future need (e.g. healthcare, education, food security, fin-tech, gov-tech, climate-tech)
  • Capture innovation left on the table by concentrating commercialization expertise and doing the hard work of commercializing innovation rather than training innovators to become entrepreneurs (we call these “Venture Builders”)
  • Seek M&A opportunities to accelerate the pace of change in companies that perpetuate inequalities and unsustainable practices
  • Create more meaningful jobs and careers with new and growing innovation companies

Prioritize Stakeholder Value over Shareholder Value

  • Influence the governance of Project X portfolio companies to create larger and more impactful and sustainable stakeholder benefits
  • Proactively and positively address the systems that have created environmental and social inequality which have benefitted few and oppressed many
  • Create net new revenue streams to fund investment in social infrastructure to develop more sustainable communities

How It Works

Work With Project X

The Project X team advises its clients and partners to orient to and implement “The Project X Way” in regions worldwide. We work with our partners to determine how the Project X Way might apply in their area. We:

  • Think through the big questions in new and different ways
  • Develop (data-informed) alternative hypotheses to address those problems
  • Assess innovation investment opportunities 
  • Establish pre-revenue investment vehicles through local partners
  • Operate Project X Venture Builders worldwide through local partners to help build, grow and headquarter new ventures in your communities

The Ingredients

The Fund

The equity fund simplifies the process for consumer, endowment, and institutional investors to invest “locally” through a portfolio of privately-held pre-revenue and at-revenue innovation enterprises within a holding company that is publicly traded. 

The Data Lab

Conducts research and compiles data on macro and micro economic trends to inform good investments in innovation based on demand and opportunity specific to your region/ecosystem. Outputs inform the investment fund allocation and innovations selected for acceptance into Venture Builders.

The Venture Builder

Provides the capacity (people with the right knowledge, skills, processes and tools) to take innovations from concept to commercialization through the use of a shared services model. 

Innovation Companies

The Venture Builder shepherds innovations through the incorporation and commercialization process, and continues to invest in their scale up and continued growth.

Revenue

Innovation companies generate net new revenues used to fuel growth and sustain the communities where they operate.

Jobs

Innovation companies create new jobs that anchor companies in local communities, increasing regional economic value and sustaining families, creating local living economies.

Environmental & Social Equality

Project X innovation companies steward their profits in favour of sustainable environmental and social benefits, committing a portion of revenues to community contributions.

Achieving Outcomes That Matter

Innovators

You are an inventor, a creator. You might be a technician, artisan, programmer or self educated with a great idea, but you don’t want to be or have to learn how to be an entrepreneur. You want to continue to create and we want to work with you and your ideas to bring them to market, fast.

Project X is breaking the mold by working with innovators that are not identifying as entrepreneurs in order to capture the untapped value being left on the table. We want to grow a company around your idea, headquarter it in your region, create living wage jobs and generating more economic activity in your area.

Got an idea or a way of improving something? Let’s talk!

 

 

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Investors

You want to make an investment impact in your local economy through place-based investing.

You’re interested in refocusing your investment within your communities to spur innovation that creates meaningful work in your community through new sustainable enterprises.

You represent a pension fund, endowment, family office or consumers. Let’s talk about how the Project X way provides a tool to invest in ways that make a difference for communities while earning competitive returns.

Note: Currently Project X is founder funded and working towards listing on the NEO Exchange https://www.neo.inc. This will make Project X the first publicly traded place-based global investment fund.

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Community Partners

You’re looking for meaningful ways to improve your local economy? We’re looking for community leaders that are passionate about making a difference in their community, region, or country.

You might be a community economic developer, an interested citizen, a public servant, a university, a non-profit or foundation, a political leader, or a philanthropist.

Let’s explore if implementing a Project X hub or having a PX scout is right for your region as an additional way to use place-based investing and innovator support to improve equality and move further towards a sustainable local living economy.

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