Everyone, and I mean everyone, is looking for talented people and companies to work with to achieve the goal of growing wealth. That might be a "well duh" kind of statement but hearing Ralph Hulseman of Michelin say that he is actively looking for small companies to partner with in almost every area of Michelin perks a persons ears up.
The basic vibe I got was, "it's not the size of the company, it's the size of the talent inside the company we care about." Of course, saying that and actually doing something with a company the size of say, OrangeCoat are two different things.
There was also a good amount of talk about patents and intellectual property. These things were often mentioned as silver bullets for cash or at the very least the absolute first step to innovation. I, of course, see this as backwards and against the idea of collaborative innovation, but that is a full post for a different day.
There were real fears about K-12 education, in South Carolina specifically, but for the entirety of the US more broadly. The worries of the failing education system centered mainly around the idea that we aren't producing talented enough people to keep our great businesses running. This is a hard thing to deny.
My two cents A drastic overhaul of the education system is the long term goal and can't happen tomorrow. What can happen tomorrow is a better fostering of the entrepreneurial spirit. There is a group of people who will go above and beyond what's taught in school if they are inspired to do so. We have to do a better job of inspiring kids to learn what they need to learn outside of school. Inspire them to learn about great entrepreneurs of the past and what made them great.
If they love computers---get them involved in an open source project. If they love design---have them start a design blog. It they love business---give them the mentoring to start their own summer business instead of having them work at Burger King.
Inspiring kids to do work beyond the current school system is the only way to get that next crop of entrepreneurs.
That's all I got for day one. Off to see the Day 2 presentations.