Shapiro: Accelerator’s challenge is using for-profit energy for nonprofit mission

Print More

Here’s more from Jake Shapiro, founding c.e.o. of Public Radio Exchange, on why PRX and the Knight Foundation created the Public Media Accelerator, which was announced in December 2011. First, the concept: “Accelerators are organizations focused on early stage investment in technology startups, providing a mix of financing, mentorship and other support to help launch new companies with the potential for explosive growth,” he writes on MediaShift. “It’s clear that public media needs its own accelerator — attuned to the needs and assets of the industry and connected to the talent and energy in the broader technology and media world.”

One challenge, he notes, is to “harness the for-profit energy that attracts top talent and aligns incentives in the standard accelerator model, while advancing the mission-driven principles at the core of the venture.” 

If that’s possible, one outcome would be to “overcome the inherent weaknesses of the grant-driven, project-based funding that has been the means of innovation funding in the industry to date,” he writes. “These efforts tend to be incremental, short-lived, and at best result in ‘sustaining’ rather than ‘disruptive’ innovation (using Clayton Christensen’s well-known construct). It’s not hard to see why disruptive innovations tend to come from outside successful organizations and industries rather than from within. The Public Media Accelerator has the opportunity to change this dynamic: Knight and PRX have significant standing and relationships in public media, but are also accomplished risk-takers without the legacies and limits of many public media institutions.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *