February 12, 2021

Open for Innovation

Open for Innovation

Cuba just announced that for the first time, citizens will be able to work in almost any type of private sector business. That might not sound like a big deal if you live in the U.S., but until now self-employed people and entrepreneurs in Cuba could only work in 127 state-approved fields, such as barber or palm-tree trimmer. According to CNN, the government barely tolerated entrepreneurship, and many people’s only option was working in low-paid state jobs. Now they have a choice of more than 2,000 fields, thanks to the business leaders who pushed for this change.

Many Americans feel our system is not working for them at the moment – and I agree there is lots of room for improvement – but this news reminded me of how lucky we are to live in the U.S. and of how many freedoms many of us would miss if capitalism were gone. It is hard for me even to imagine what life would be like for the many entrepreneurs and middle-market leaders we serve at Marcum if they were restricted to a list of 127 businesses and seen as a nuisance and not the job creators they are. Think of all of the lost potential – and the innovation that would never see the light of day! (Not to mention how boring the headlines would be if we couldn’t read about Elon Musk’s latest adventures, the GameStop frenzy or the latest Instagram influencer-turned-millionaire.) It’s going to be exciting to see the ideas that flow out of Cuba, now that there are fewer restrictions.

Speaking of which, have you noticed how much innovation has been flourishing around the world since the pandemic? On top of the COVID-19 vaccines and multitude of tests that have come out, the past year has been an absolute hotbed of new inventions and products. 2020 brought us solar panels that generate energy from existing roadways, over-the-ear headphones that translate foreign languages for world travelers, tiny microscopes that you can attach to a smartphone and a gadget that washes clothes without soap using ultrasonic waves. One very interesting idea is Hoversurf’s AI-powered drone ambulance, which can travel 10x faster than a ground ambulance while hovering above the ground.

My guess is that 2021 is going to be an even bigger year and that when we look back, we’ll see that it was one of the most fertile periods of innovation and entrepreneurship in global history. Think of all of the inventors and companies that have been hunkered down and doing R&D this past year because it was hard to pursue their normal routines. With the world opening up and technologies like AI and machine learning augmenting human intelligence, we’re going to see an avalanche of new and potentially life-changing products, and probably sooner rather than later.

We’re embracing the moment here at Marcum. In late January, we announced the winners of the 2020 Marcum Tech Top 40, an annual program recognizing the fastest-growing technology and life sciences companies in Connecticut. Cara Therapeutics, which was named overall winner, is in Phase 3 clinical trials for a treatment for pruritis, chronically itchy skin. Check out the entire list if you’re looking for a little inspiration on a cold winter day.

As business leaders in Cuba recognized, there are opportunities all around us if we’re free to pursue them. And fortunately, here in the U.S., there are no limits on what we can accomplish.

Stay safe, stay healthy and remember, we’re all in this together!