How to catalyze innovation

This article is a proposal on a set of actions based on four major axis of public-private partnerships aimed at improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Morocco. By extension, I also make some proposals on improving the Moroccan investment environment as a whole.

I will introduce the methodology adopted, which includes capacity enumeration and the diagnosis taxonomy, for the proposed solutions.

This will then be followed by proposing solutions taking into account budget, viability, operational feasibility, and market desirability.

Analysis approach

Morocco’s executive body is an elected entity whose goal is to work on operations of public interest. In this article, I will focus on public-private partnerships in the operational perspective, mainly Ministries and Municipalities in Morocco.

That is why in this article I will not tackle policy and governance propositions, which are not in direct control of the executive body.

Unlike companies which can almost span thousands of employees, countries are much larger, have multiple cultures, and resources to deal with. They also have historical heritage of hundreds of centuries to keep in mind.

I am also not going to classify a country's assets into strengths or weaknesses, as one would do with a SWOT analysis, I am just going to enumerate them as they are, and then try to use them to their fullest. For example, An outdated rail system is not considered a weakness in this approach, a outdated railroad is a fact, it is there, either it should be used, fixed, or improved.

Just as a train may run late, I take that fact at hand as a “present reality”, criticizing it would not change it, but I may use it to trace back other realities.

In this case, I won't be able to solve train lateness within a week or a month, thus, perhaps as part of my commute I should have carry a notebook with me and write my to-do list while I wait for the train. Instead of viewing the train being late as a weakness in my "daily operations", I would rather try to exploit it. Another option in this example is to perhaps start scheduling my phone calls during this "down time". If the average time for a train being late is 15 minutes, that is enough time for me to catch up with some people via the phone.

This methodology is not an attempt at making apologies for present weaknesses, but rather an attempt to find solutions to the present. I’m taking the same approach in this analysis by enumerating things as they are , and not categorizing them.

For purposes of this article, government activities can be seen as Command and Control, Collection and Distribution.

Government operations categorization
The government over lapping actions enumeration including Command and Control and Collection and Distribution roles.

In this mundane generalization I will tag the activities of the government into four distinct operations which overlap also overlap in 4 operations, that I would be mentioning frequently:

  • Authentication (control and distribution): from registering services to legally viable signatures.

  • Compliance (control and collection): measurements such as auditing, labels, and organisations such as ANRT (Morocco - National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency).

  • Arbitrage (command and collection): arbitrage is not only about conflict resolution, but also prioritization, and deciding on which “appel d’offre” to

  • Resource sharing (command and distribution): from budgetization to public spaces and services, those are in resource sharing section.

Capacity enumeration

By design, nations have geographical and distribution advantages, that’s why in this approach I place emphasis on revenue generation outside of the taxation model.

Each executive institution has a set of capacities that should be taken into consideration in state monetization, such as:

  • Geographical proximity: hospital buildings, middle schools, and municipality markets are example of under exploited assets that have geographical proximity.

  • Authority and verification services: one of the core activities of some government institutions is authenticity verification. These services can be enhanced to the benefit of the government, or expanded to include other services that can benefit businesses. Digitizing existing verification can reduce man power needed for processing to allow room for more services without having to retrench existing employees.

  • Physical information distribution: bodies such as municipalities and ministries have communication channels that can transmit information to the general public.

  • Common assets: government laboratories and universities own machinery and equipment that is valuable for business innovation, which can be used by innovators and businesses for a fee.

  • Data sets access: government entities own a lot of valuable data, but the process of structuring data and making it accessible needs a lot of man power. One of the things the institutions can do is to make such data accessible for the public.

  • The associative structure of institutions: the government institutions have the ability to structure efforts under one umbrella and impose business cooperation through such a body by giving competitive advantages for the businesses and entities willing to collaborate.

The above enumeration is not comprehensive, but limited to the solutions this article would be providing below.

Diagnosis taxonomy: Space-time fragility

Any entrepreneur can clearly notice challenges such as technical skill shortage, friction in payment methods, and unpaid invoices. Even if they seem recurring problems, it does not make them foundational problems like “rail roads network weakness”.

This is why if we propose solutions to the issues mentioned above, our approach of analyzing the problem remains on foundational challenges that are omnipresent, just like “gravity” which is always there, but need to be taken into consideration in our designs.

I would name this taxonomy : "space-time fragility". Where space and time are the axis of our matrix. Space and time are not challenges but they are realities.

We call it then space tolerance, or space fragility. Which I consider the tolerance of the project to space aspects such as distribution. geography, distance, gravity, energy, and water distribution, and any consequence of such limitations, can fall into the space tolerance.

Then there is what I would call time tolerance, or time fragility, the tolerance of the project to the flow of time, such as change of climate, competition, demographic growth, resource shortage, technology obsolescence, infrastructure decay, etc.

Sapce Time Matrix
The Space time tolerance matrix showing the four sections: Security, Communication, Growth, and Liquidity.

For example, a web service has high space tolerance, since it does not rely much on it. While an telecommunications infrastructure has low space tolerance, because it is implemented in a physical environment with geographic limitations.

In this same example, a web service is fragile to time, because there are many web services that are being launched daily, new compliance, technology changes, etc. On the other hand, telecommunications infrastructure is resilient to time, the more time passes the more it returns its investment and does not require a lot of changes, unlike a web service, and once people are connected to it, its hard for them to change. Also, it's harder for a new competitor to enter a geographical area owned by the same established telecommunications entity.

Thereby this document would distinguish each solution into four taxonomies from time space fragility: liquidity, communication, growth, and security.

  • Comunication: high time tolerance and high space tolerance, if we need to communicate over long distance.

  • Security: High time tolerance and low space tolerance, security takes time by default but its limited by space, even in electronic security.

  • Growth: growth issues rise when the actions are fragile to both time and space.

  • Liquidity: the more time it takes to sell something the less liquid it becomes, even if it is partially affected by space, liquidity is fragile to time mainly.

A security challenge will always pop-up once liquidity is solved, and a communication challenge will increase as growth is solved.
In this methodology we don’t consider these advantages and disadvantages, strengths or weaknesses, since the challenges are omnipresent, we can not out run them, we only cope with them, and we can’t out perform them or remove them, they are there.

The taxonomy is agnostic to “evaluation”, it is an attempt to grasp the interaction of different challenges under the four identifiers.

For example the technical skills shortage is a challenge that can be deconstructed into these four categories:

  • Communication: the skillful person has a hard time identifying a company to work with, the company has a hard time finding the skillful person.

  • Growth: the person with few technical skills does not have enough resources to increase their skills, thereby not growing.

Four axis to boost Morocco's economy

In each proposed set of actions, which I would be calling "axis", in each axis we would enumerate a list of capacities and then we would match them with arbitrary market opportunities. I will go in depth on each axis in a separate article using the methodology mentioned before.

1. Open-source and creative commons as public goods

  • Open Source Tooling should be budgeted by both OFPPT, CRI, and ANAPEC.

  • Creative Commons and Copy Left material can be funded by Communal and Municipality Budget.

  • They are easy to maintain, audit, track, improve, and even monetize.

  • They can be co-funded by corporations, associations, independent creative people world wide.

2. Accessible hardware tools in public spaces for communal use

A few examples of such hardware tools are 3D printers, CNC machines, open source electronics, and public hosting services.

  • Putting the apparatus accessible through middle schools, high schools, and universities.

  • Monetizing access to the cited hardware.

  • Opening the doors of the high schools, middle schools and universities for membership.

3. Using national security as catalysis for innovation

  • A pretext to push big corporations to share anonymized data sets, such data should be a national asset.

  • Security specific need for each institution and entity to create demand in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

  • Energy resilience strategies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels by auditing and re-adjusting the value chain.

  • Anti-Crime solutions that would not only create new skills for the government but would bridge the value chain to marginalized population at the last mile.

4. Democratizing communication and language evangelization

  • Basic free Internet and phone right.

  • Basic publicity in public space right.

  • Evangelize Tamazight and adopt an Arabic script for the language.

  • Evangelize English and its use for science.