This Recession Will Breed Innovation. Here's What Companies Need to Focus on.

Maybe it’s the 11% jump in stocks, but I’m beginning to see the deep recession as a great opportunity for innovation. Crisis brings change and a BIG crisis can create BIG changes. First, I think we’re going to see big changes in consumer behavior. IDEO’s Tim Brown is already talking about this. He thinks there might be a shift from spending to saving (remember Bank of America’s Keep the Change product/service?) and perhaps a desire for more stability and sustainability in our lives. Remember how the business for cheap airline seats and airlines that provided them took off in past recessions, when price trumped (bad) food. it was disruptive. What’s next?

Over at Cheskin, the same thought process is under way—how will consumer behavior change? Cheskin focuses on corporate brands and positioning in the recession. Perhaps more importantly, Cheskin talks about the government role in promoting innovation ecologies—and the kind of programs and spending that are necessary to do so.

This gets back to innovation economics and the need to support programs and policies that generate creativity and economic growth. The US outspends nearly all countries in R&D but in the past five or six years, jobs have actually declined in the tech industry. Why? We need to know. Do we need more support for innovation clusters in cities? In regions? Do we need more X Prizes to focus effort on key transformative technologies (the 100 mpg car, the much-better battery)? This is the stuff of private and public policy.

Chicago has a great innovation awards contest that promotes economic growth in the city.