God Bless the America Dream – Guest Blogger Mark Collar

Mark Collar is currently a partner at Triathlon Medical Ventures and Chairman of the Ohio Third Frontier Advisory Board.  But, for most of our relationship, Mark was President of Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and Personal Health and my line manager.  I love Mark’s personal goal – “Make a difference helping good people do important things.”  It is a goal he takes to heart, and I have benefited from his counsel on more than one occasion.  Mark’s is an opinion I value and one I always listen carefully to.

In one of our monthly breakfast meetings at the local Big Boy restaurant, Mark and I were discussing the state of Brand America.  His perspective made an impact on my thinking (as it often does), so I asked Mark if he wouldn’t mind sharing his thoughts with you.


One Man’s Views…

Sitting in front of my computer nearing completion of 6 years chairing the Third Frontier Advisory Board, and fully engaged in the entrepreneurial biomedical world, I thought I might stretch my typing skills and put down a few thoughts around the role of government in technology-based economic development, and what we are doing here in Ohio.

First a bit of background for complete transparency…

I worked 32 years for P&G starting out carrying a bag on the streets of Chicago and ending up as the president of the Pharmaceutical and Personal Health division. P&G is a great company and I was blessed to work within this meritocracy where everything starts with delighting our consumers.

I’ve moved from this big company experience to multi-faceted roles looking for opportunities to make a difference.  In addition to my role with the $1.6 billion Third Frontier economic development program, I am on the boards of First Financial Bank, and an emerging medical device company, Atricure. I chair BioOhio and am a founding board member of BioStart in Cincinnati. I chair the Health Alliance of Cincinnati (a large hospital group), and am a venture partner at Triathlon, the largest bio-focused VC firm in the region. So, I see economic development from numerous nooks and crannies.

Here’s what I believe:

  1. America’s free markets will still drive economic growth and prosperity. There is a need for wise governmental regulation to provide transparency and protect the public, but not to inhibit smart, enterprising people from profiting and creating jobs for others, and poor performers from suffering some losses.
  2. Governmental stimulation works if does just that – stimulates the free markets by creating opportunities for entrepreneurs to increase rewards or decrease risks. The Ohio Third Frontier program has been a model for successful stimulus. Over the past 6 years we have invested about $400 million of our taxpayers’ dollars. But these precious dollars have leveraged a remarkable $3.5 billion in outside money, almost 9 to 1 leverage, and brought together innovators from the public and private sectors to focus on technology development with the potential to build or expand important industries in Ohio.  We are working on solar energy innovations in Toledo, cardiovascular technology in Cleveland, and medical imaging in Columbus to name a few. In all we have created, attracted, or capitalized over 500 companies and created over 7700 jobs at an average salary of about $67,000 with major job growth to follow as these small companies and new industries take root and attract more capital to expand.
  3. Diverse groups of Americans will come together when opportunity exists and fair, practical programs are designed to give enterprising people a chance to compete. I have been pleased to find strong support for the Third Frontier from Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, large companies and small companies, private sector employees and public sector employees, academia and business, traditional industries and emerging industries. America was built on the basis of innovation. There is plenty of it still going on and more to nurture. Great ideas build economies… ideas that result in exciting products and services that people want to buy or use because they will improve their lives in some way, shape, or form… whether its their health, their homes, their work, or their leisure. Great innovation does not require the government to play a role, but in times of economic stress the government can prime the innovation pump and make a real difference. In times of economic prosperity, well designed governmental programs that work in partnership with industry can insure a continuing flow of great technology that will create the new industries of the future that we can’t even image today.
  4. America’s greatness has not been fatally deflated by the actions of a relative few. We are a country with a grand majority… a grand majority of people from all walks of life, all socio-economic backgrounds and positions, all trying to do the right things with their talents and the desire to make a difference… a grand majority of people with different levels and types of skills and roles, but all working Americans, and all believing America is a place of opportunity for those who want to get at it. The sooner we start celebrating what made America great, celebrating success, and nourishing the prevailing sense of wanting to succeed, the sooner we will leave this lethargy, and get back on our track to greatness. Let’s focus on the American grand majority and celebrate the greatness they bring.

God bless the American dream.

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