CCED Alumni Represents REI at International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks

By: Jacob Leppek, MSU CCED, Michigan Community Service Commission,Youth Resource Coordinator,

Jacob Leppek presents his workCollaborative Innovation Networks (COINs) are online, intrinsically-motivated groups of individuals who collaborate, create and improve products, solutions, and research. Take Wikipedia as an example: through the contributions of individuals over the internet, this COIN developed a massive free online encyclopedia. At REI, we utilize a similar process. By crowdsourcing the ideas, skills, and knowledge of community members, we spur economic development within Michigan.

At the 7th International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks, a diverse group of professionals, academics, and students gathered to share success stories on impactful networks that improved their lives, research, and jobs. We've known for a long time that groups can accomplish more than a single individual. In the same way, economic and community development problems cannot be solved by one lone person or organization. The REI Network is a robust example of how networks can connect community members with the funding, knowledge, and skills they need to solve local problems.

After working with REI for a year and a half, I've learned an incredible amount from the staff, researchers, and people I've met. Building on REI's tremendous successes in the past 6 years, I authored a paper entitled Resilient Community and Economic Development through Collaborative Innovation Networks. I had the opportunity to present the paper at the conference in September, and it's currently being reviewed for publication in the conference proceedings.

The REI Network is a brilliant example of how utilizing networks in development engenders a more resilient approach to empower community members. By creating a hub for entrepreneurs, professionals, researchers and students, we've encouraged innovation and economic growth across the state—and our work was recognized at the conference. Everyone I talked to-conference attendees and presenters-were incredibly impressed with the millions of dollars in investment and research the REI Center produced. And in the next four years, we'll keep it going.

Back to Article list