Many public programs struggle to deliver transformational results to regions. Most fail, because they use a "push" model; that is, a particular program is pushed as the solution to the needs of the state or region. State and federal policy approaches that directly fund institutionally-created programs reinforce this "we have an answer for you" posture.
TRE takes a different approach by bringing multiple, proven university programs together, and advocating that development program tools be purchased by regions. This strategy creates practical collaboration between programs and regional players, recognizes the unique context of each region, and allows TRE to quickly customize solutions that integrate regional and national partners' assets. This "pull" model directly cultivates regional transformation efforts across the regional landscape: in small and medium-sized industrial cities, in the urban core, and in rural areas.
There are four key objectives at the center of TRE's mission:
- Accelerate innovation by developing collaborative networks. Maximizing the interactions between knowledge suppliers (individuals or organizations that "do" innovation) and knowledge consumers (those who "need" the innovations) is the key to quickening the pace of the innovation process.
- Develop innovation networks by focusing on regions The reasons for distress within a particular community lie within the specific challenges of the region; likewise, transformation efforts must build on the assets of regions rather than relying on one-size-fits-all national solutions.
- Leverage the strengths of metropolitan areas to help smaller cities and rural areas within regions. The concentration of innovation capacity in metro areas creates an equity issue, as smaller cities and rural areas find themselves struggling to strengthen their local economies.
- Develop a national system to foster new networks of public, private, and philanthropic investors at the national level to accelerate regional innovation. Our federal policies need stronger focus and coherence; our national foundations need partners to leverage and guide investments; our states need multi-state alliances to share "what works". All of these challenges call for stronger collaborations among federal government agencies, private business associations, higher education institutions and philanthropy.