Unsung Hero Spotlight: Paul Riser

To you, what is an Ecosystem Builder?

An ecosystem builder is a champion for others, a collaborator, one who “gives first” and attains great personal reward in helping those around him/her. An ecosystem is relentless and deeply committed to equipping their clients, their ecosystem and partners with the tools, vision and resource to measurably move forward. Equity, inclusion and diversity are intrinsic in ecosystem builders as they take system wide strategies and approaches forward to foster and amplify innovation in their community.

What motivates you as an ecosystem builder?

I’ve been fortunate to have realized the joy, impact and reward of giving back to my community programmatically, systemically and intentionally since the age of 18 when my friends and I created a non-profit to work with youth, provide scholarships and deliver entrepreneurial programming to students. A fire was sparked, albeit I didn’t realize it until a bit later, inside of me that still burns and remains strong because of the enjoyment and satisfaction that I embrace within collaboration, helping others realize their goals, building programs and achieving milestones that will leave a legacy – far beyond my tenure and position.
What is the most successful/impactful program/event/thing you do/have done in your ecosystem?
I would have to say that the development and continued growth of MedHealth, a cluster-based economic collaborative that convenes innovators, providers, payers, funders, health systems, economic developers, investors and businesses to accelerate innovative solutions that improve quality of care in Southeast Michigan and Southwest Ontario. This cross-border initiative has grown in impact, engagement, scope and value to our regional ecosystem and now reaches partners and stakeholders in over 2 dozen states across the country via a variety of strategic alliances. You can see the initiatives website, our steering committee members, events we have held, tools that we offer to the ecosystem and more by visiting https://medhealthinnovation.org/

What is the biggest challenge you face as an Ecosystem Builder?

I believe that resource and time constraints are the biggest hurdles that I face as an ecosystem builder. Ideas, partners and opportunities that I am blessed to have been presented over the past 5 years far exceed the resources that I can apply to meet them. I hope to continue to grow the variety of programs that I am leading / co-leading in the areas of smart city / urban tech work, fintech (https://detroitfintechchallenge.com/), music tech (https://www.motownmusicianaccelerator.com/), water tech (https://eriehack.io/) and healthcare (https://medhealthinnovation.org/) so that they are truly sustainable, impactful and scale to reach their optimal potential.

What is your biggest frustration as an ecosystem builder?

I am most frustrated when there are obvious synergies overlooked and efforts that are duplicated by (in many cases) new entrants into ecosystems across the country. Economies of scale are left “on the table” and therefore entrepreneurs, service providers and existing partners don’t experience and realize the best of what their ecosystem could offer. In another vein, I wish that the importance of entrepreneurship was more respected and valued at all levels of society – including by our policy makers and larger corporations. The driving force of economic growth for the US is gains in productivity driven by calculated risk-takers, passionate entrepreneurs and disruptive innovation.

What ecosystem building skill/knowledge do you want to gain?

I would like to gain a deeper understanding of the levers that can deliver change to entrepreneurial policy decisions from my own state to Washington DC. I think this will allow me to increase my value and ability to influence longer-term and deep systemic change that will impact our ecosystems, cities and country.

What are the most important things that need to happen to advance the field of ecosystem building?

I think we need a nationally shared set of policies and agenda items that can revitalize American entrepreneurship by educating decision and policy-makers on the value and importance of entrepreneurship. I think that this could help deliver economic growth that can address under-employment, pervasive economic inequities, extreme poverty rates, hopelessness, etc. for a large segment of our country’s population.

What others are saying about Paul

Authentic and passionate for entrepreneurship, in the broadest sense!

 

Related: Cultivate a Culture of Trust and Collaboration within our Field: ESHIP Goal 2

Anika Horn

Anika Horn is an ecosystem builder for social change, social enterprise advisor and storyteller. She is on a mission to equip ecosystem builders with the insights, resources and community to lead fulfilling lives and purpose-driven careers. Learn more about her work at SocialVenturers.com and AnikaHorn.com.

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