Everyone is in the idea business

Everyone is in the idea business.

You may make or sell something else, but you are in the idea business.

Photo credit: Caleb Roenigk


Today’s economy values and rewards knowledge more than production. The changes created by an increasingly flat world require companies to be nimble, innovative, and forward-thinking.

Of the 500 companies listed on the first edition of the Fortune 500 in 1955, 87% are no longer on the list.

Businesses face unprecedented challenges to profit and thrive in a knowledge-based economy. It is no longer sufficient to make a good product, sell it at a good price, and provide good customer service.

Business must support research and development to prosper. Traditional metrics no longer seem sufficient.

Historical benchmarks no longer prove as useful for informing long-range planning. So where should business look for answers and advice? College and universities.

American universities created much of the research and development that fueled the scientific and technological revolution of the second half of the 1900s.

Universities are also remarkably resilient. 72% of the colleges open at the start of the Civil War remain open today.

While businesses struggle with global competition particularly from China, India, and Mexico, U.S. higher education enrolls nearly 350,000 students from those countries.

Higher education supports the knowledge, innovation, and risk-taking that are universally considered imperative to success in a global economy.

What has led to the enormous success of American higher education?

Better than anyone—universities support knowledge development.

Despite numerous challenges from a changing population to government cutbacks to employer expectations, American higher education has proven to be resilient.

If the economy of tomorrow depends on science and technology, who better to learn from than the institution that has created the largest reservoir of knowledge in the history of the world.


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