Saturday, September 30, 2006

Some things are just awesome

The shuttle, which returned last week from a 12-day mission, and the space station can be seen in orbit 250 miles above the earth while the sun is 93 million miles away.

Click on the picture to enlarge the image and see a closer look at the shuttle and space station.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mark Your Calendar - InnoVenture 2007 - March 27 and 28, 2007

Mark your calendar and plan to attend InnoVenture 2007, to be held March 27 and 28, 2007 at the Palmetto Expo Center in Greenville, SC. InnoVenture has grown from 350 participants in 2004 to over 650 participants in 2006, and we anticipate a bigger crowd this spring.

Look forward to seeing you at InnoVenture 2007.

Friday, September 22, 2006

What causes academics to become entrepreneurial?

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has awarded its second Kauffman Prize Medal for Distinguished Research in Entrepreneurship to Professor Toby Stuart of the Harvard Business School.

The State Science and Technology Institute created the following summaries of a selected set of Professor Stuart's most recent articles:

"When Do Scientists Become Entrepreneurs? The Social Structural Antecedents of Commercial Activity in the Academic Life Sciences"
Stuart and Waverly Ding of Berkeley's Haas School of Business take a randomly selected sample of 5,100 life science Ph.D.s in academia, and examine the link between participation in for-profit entrepreneurial ventures and the presence of an academic social network that supports faculty entrepreneurism. They find that university scientists are more likely to found or join the board of a new firm if other faculty members have already done so, particularly if more prestigious colleagues in their department have created their own start-ups. They also find evidence that more accomplished faculty members are more likely to help commercialize technologies and to lead the way in fostering an entrepreneurial climate within a university department.

"The Impact of Academic Patenting on the Rate, Quality and Direction of (Public) Research Output"
In this January 2006 paper, Stuart, Ding, and Pierre Azoulay of Columbia University's Graduate School of Business examine the patents and research output of 3,862 academic life scientists to determine if the increasing focus on commercialization at American universities is affecting the quantity and quality of published research. They conclude that patent activity has a positive effect on the rate of article publication, but no observable effect on the quality of those articles.

"Gender Differences in Patenting in the Academic Life Sciences"
In this Kauffman-sponsored study, Stuart, Ding, and Fiona Murray of MIT's Sloan School of Management reveal that male life scientists in academia secure patents at more than twice the rate of their female colleagues. The study suggests that women conduct equally significant research, but often find themselves left out of social networks that provide valuable access to the commercial sector. The authors conclude that additional networking groups could help foster greater connections between female researchers and the business community.

These articles and others by Toby Stuart are available through the TBED Resource Center at

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Big Companies Can Learn From Start-Ups

Duke University has recently released a report of what big companies can learn from start-ups.
Companies enjoy far greater success when they invest corporate venture capital in startup firms for strategic reasons rather than for narrow financial returns... This research clearly shows that often the greatest benefit of corporate venture capital investment is to provide a window into novel technologies that ultimately helps advance the corporation’s overall technology strategy

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Net Neutrality Revisited

Earlier in the summer we had a discussion about net neutrality. Senator DeMint emerges as a leader in the future of telecommunications and the Internet and A letter to Senator Jim DeMint

This week a friend on the faculty at USC sent me a link to an article in the Chronical of Higher Education (subscription required).

The article reports that,
A dozen higher-education groups sent a letter on Wednesday to two key U.S. senators, reiterating their support for the principle of network neutrality...

The college groups worry that collaborative online research and distance education will suffer if telecommunications companies that own broadband infrastructure degrade or slow down the transmission of Web content offered by higher-education institutions in favor of content from commercial Web operators.

"Net neutrality is extremely important for colleges and universities as we develop new ways to deliver multimedia instructional materials to students, including students off campus and in rural areas," the letter reads. "Universities have long been drivers of Internet innovation."
Aren't students off campus and in rural areas more likely to get the telecommunications infrastructure they need to consume the innovative multimedia instructional materials that will be developed if they pay the market rate for the infrastructure rather than subsidizing them and shifting the cost to other users?

The elite of South Carolina do the most to drag down the average

The Greenville News reports the following (which you should already know because you read it here first).:

  • South Carolina students in households with annual incomes above $100,000 scored 68 points below the national average.

  • Those from families earning below $10,000 were 63 points below peers nationally, the College Board data show.

  • All other income groups trailed their peers by 21 to 41 points.

  • So, the Greenville News had a choice between two headlines.

    Children from lower-income families gaining on SAT scores


    The elite of South Carolina do the most to drag down the average

    The fact that the story ran at all, though, is a sign of progress. Once we begin to accept reality we can then do something about it.

    A friend on the faculty at Clemson sent me a link to an article about how
    U.S. students [in the US] are falling behind in math and science, and competition from abroad is intensifying. Our students rank 24th in the world in math literacy by the time they get to high school.
    So comparing SC to the US average is a far cry from comparing SC to the best in the world.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Here's what's wrong with the Monitor study of education

    Well, you knew it was coming. It was really done quite intentionally.

    The Monitor Group completed a study of public education concluding as the Greenville News put it that Contrary to some perceptions, state's students hold their own.

    Now along comes The State newspaper opining that:
    THE FICTION THAT South Carolina has the worst schools in the nation has become something akin to an urban legend, perpetuated by the same means: Tell a lie often enough, and eventually people will believe it.
    The State reads into this report that:
    But there is good reason to believe that the combination of [current] changes and the full 12-year implementation of the 1998 Education Accountability Act that is already producing such dramatic results in the lower grades will put our graduation rates on that same path to improvement.
    So in other words, let's just stick with the status quo and everything will be all right.

    But the reality is, as Swamp Fox showed a couple of weeks ago, that in the words of Andrew J. Coulson, who also studied SC public education and reached a fundamentally different conclusion,
    The better educated a South Carolina student'’s parents happen to be, the further that student scores behind students in other states whose parents are similarly educated.
    Arguing that we should maintain the status quo in public education and that everything will be alright is not going to help our children be the best in the world at what they do to compete in the global economy they will face over their careers.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    How do you build communities?

    How to you build communities of people collaborating together?

    Big lessons can be learned from organizations that have been successful at that over the ages - churches. The lessons are both in time proven ways in how they organize to build community, as well as emerging ways in terms of how they use technology to build communities.

    ACS Technologies in Florence recently introduced an enhanced product:
    Small Groups Complete™, an easy choice for churches that wish to manage and organize small group ministries more efficiently and effectively.

    The concept of small groups is an increasingly popular way for connecting people and encouraging involvement within churches by helping members build relationships and grow spiritually. With unique online interactivity, members and leaders can join groups and communicate with members within their groups while staff has total access.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Market for automotive telematics $38.3 billion in 2011

    Telematics is "the use of Global Positioning System technology integrated with computers and mobile communications technology." The market for automotive telematics, just one segment of automotive IT, is anticipated to generate total revenues of $38.3 billion in 2011.

    Sunday, September 10, 2006

    US Department of Transportation Strategic Plan 2006 to 2011

    From fuel cells to automotive IT to out traditional automotive cluster, we have a lot riding on transportation. Here you can find a copy of the US Department of Transportation - Draft Strategic Plan - Fiscal Years 2006 – 2011. The priorities for how the Federal government spends transportation dollars will drive a lot of the development of our area.

    A driver's dream: High-tech freeways

    There's an interesting article in the San Jose Mercury News about A driver's dream: High-tech freeways. Why don't we build on here first?

    Complementary innovation at Michelin

    Michelin marketing of both tires and tourist guides was recently the feature of an interesting discussion of complementary innovation on Nicholas Carr's Rough Type blog, found compliments of the Fortune Business Innovator Insider blog.

    Carr asks five questions in assessing the potential of developing complementary products:

    1. What complements are currently constraining demand in our markets?
    2. What new product might boost demand for our core offerings?
    3. Would our customers buy more if they had better information?
    4. Would we learn valuable lessons by innovating in complements?
    5. Do we have competitors whose fortunes are tightly tied to the price of complements?

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Context, not content, is king in a world of infinite choice

    The book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More discusses how we've been conditioned to focus on a few best selling items, the Top 40 playlist on the radio or the New York Times Bestsellers, because physical shelf space is scarce and physical retail business models are based on maximizing the value of that shelf space.

    In a digitally connected world, it's no more expensive to display a product that rarely sells than it is to display a bestseller. Most of things in the world aren't valuable to us, but buried in the blizzard are a few diamonds. The trick is that what each of us defines as diamonds is different. Where there is an overabundance of choices, what's really valuable is a filter that helps us find what we want when we want it.

    The author notes halfway through the book:
    In a world of infinite choice, context--not content--is king.
    Hmmm... Then he notes that
    American Airlines made more money from its Sabre electronic reservation system than the entire airline industry made collectively charging people money to ride on planes.

    Baby Bells were bringing in more profits from their yellow pages than from their inherited monopolies.
    Hmmm... There's a business model for us here somewhere.

    Data mining in a world of infinite choice

    I spent some time recently with Ed Roehl and Ruby Daamen of Advanced Data Mining International. ADMi was a presenting company at InnoVenture 2006 and has won Innovision Awards in 2005 and 2003.

    The ADMi website says:
    People are awash in rivers of data, flowing from many sources. Without automation, leveraging this information is beyond human abilities.

    Advanced Data Mining provides data visualization and analysis software, and services that extract knowledge from large databases. We help people decipher the relationships between hundreds of variables. Our highly experienced staff has unsurpassed expertise in data mining, ultra high quality multi-dimensional computer graphics, and web-based data communications. We not only give you knowledge that is unobtainable by other means, we can also embed this knowledge in your operations to give you real-time understanding that adapts to a world that is constantly changing.
    Hmmm... In a world of The Long Tail, there's a business model in there somewhere.

    The dark side of a world of infinite choice

    Recently Evan Tishuk of OrangeCoat sent me a link to DIGITAL MAOISM: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism. He criticizes Wikipedia as
    part of... a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force.
    He comments that:
    A variety of "Consensus Web filters" such as "Digg" and "Reddit"... assemble material every day from all the myriad of other aggregating sites. Such sites intend to be more Meta than the sites they aggregate. There is no person taking responsibility for what appears on them, only an algorithm. The hope seems to be that the most Meta site will become the mother of all bottlenecks and receive infinite funding.
    His coup de grâce is:
    The hive mind is for the most part stupid and boring. Why pay attention to it?... The beauty of the Internet is that it connects people. The value is in the other people. If we start to believe that the Internet itself is an entity that has something to say, we're devaluing those people and making ourselves into idiots.

    What makes a market work, for instance, is the marriage of collective and individual intelligence. A marketplace can't exist only on the basis of having prices determined by competition. It also needs entrepreneurs to come up with the products that are competing in the first place. In other words, clever individuals, the heroes of the marketplace, ask the questions which are answered by collective behavior.