FROM THE EDITOR – Invitation to ‘bursts’ of innovation – May

Posted on May 1, 2012 :: Editor
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

We need a more risk-taking culture in the New North.

This has been evident for some time. As documented in the 2004 Northeast Wisconsin Economic Opportunity Study, which led to the creation of New North, Inc.:

“The new model (New Economy) is based on ideas, creativity and innovation. … Creativity and innovation coupled with entrepreneurship and risk capital generate high value-added products. These products yield higher margins, better pay and more community wealth.”

Given the sense of urgency businesses face with today’s economic realities, innovation is the word of the day.

This in mind, we at Insight Publications, together with First Business Bank, will host THINC! Innovation on Thursday, May 24 at the EAA in Oshkosh.

It’s a two-part event. We’ll start the day with THINC! – Technology & Human Innovation Networking Conference. We’ve selected four thought leaders to present THINC! Talks, short “bursts” of inspiration on what innovation means to them and how you can glean great ideas for your line of work. We deliberately chose individuals who have been featured in Insight magazine.

Cheryl Perkins of Innovationedge will discuss the global threat to American manufacturers, and why companies cannot afford to put innovation on the back burner. Perkins has spent a lot of time in China this year and has led several InForum discussions on innovation-related topics in Insight.

Bob Pedersen of Goodwill Industries NCW plans to pique your interest in increasing profits by “putting people first.” The “humanized workplace advantage” is top of mind for Goodwill’s president and CEO, whose business card reads, “Chief Visionary and Storyteller.” We featured Pedersen and Goodwill on the cover of our January 2009 issue.

Neal Verfuerth of Orion Energy Systems will talk about the ultimate in “lightbulb moments,” and how his company devised a plan to finance the installation of energy-efficient lighting by allowing companies to apply the savings they realize over their old lighting systems. “People say they want to think out of the box. Well, here we live outside of the box,” Verfuerth said in our March 2012 issue.

Craig Dickman of Breakthrough Fuel may be best remembered by our readers as the brave cowboy wielding gas nozzles on the cover of our April 2012 issue. Always up for a creative challenge, Dickman plans to talk about why any business interested in success must embrace continuous innovation.

First Business Bank will host the second part of the conference from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., with “Innovation to Capitalization,” featuring panel discussions and a pitch Olympics with entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to a panel of investors.

I encourage you to read this month’s “Connections” feature by reporter Kate Baer to find out more. To register, go to

While we’re on the subject of innovation and risk-taking, check out this month’s Face Time interview with Charlie Goff, president of NEW Capital Management.

Goff was in the midst of the discussions that led to the launch of New North, Inc. in 2005. I had not heard his story before, but he tells me that when the subject of angel investing came up back then as critical for the advancement of the regional economy, he took a chance and raised his hand.

The key to successful angel investing, Goff explains, is that it creates wealth for startup and growth-stage companies as well as their investors. The wealth generated contributes not only to good paying jobs but “from the investment side, the answer is in recycling wealth.”

Such will be the focus of the second part of THINC! Innovation. I hope to see you at the EAA in Oshkosh on May 24!

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →