Sunday, October 24, 2010

First report from sunny California

Originally I have written this for the “Otevrena Informatika” blog. Since my friends wanted my notes, I am putting it on my fresh new blog.
Those of you who are not taking the OI-VIA course may not know, but I am visiting sunny California this week. The weather is very hot for the season, 25-30C. The entrepreneurial spirit is even hotter. I have met excellent people. I came with other coleuses. Lenka from Czech Invest organized for us visits in several institutions, corporations and Stanford University, thank you Lenka, great job. First we have visited the SRI international Research institute originated by the Stanford University in 1946. SRI is a non-profit independent research institute focusing on projects funded mainly from the government. FYI: Mouse has been developed at SRI, and then transferred to Xerox Park. The first message over the network was sent from UCLA to SRI.
Emil Wang gave the first presentation and it was great, very inspiring. Emil is a consultant for SRI and owner of several start ups. The key for SRI is innovation and they approach it very systematically in a much formalized way. The main concept is described in the book: Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want [Hardcover] Curtis R. Carlson (Author), William W. Wilmot (Author). Highly recommended!
Emil has conveyed several interesting thoughts. SRI strives to find how is research impacting society, how to make the Earth a better place for living. We were surprised they do not measure the success by number of published articles, but how many new jobs were created, how much money they have generated.
SRI is constantly collecting information from employees for interesting business ideas. Emil is on the board deciding which of these to support. They collect 1000 ideas a year and select about 10. Selected ideas get $10-20k NOT to prove the technology. NOT to make a pilot. NOT to make the prototype, but to create a market study. Find what is the market opportunity, who is the customers, what is the value for customers. The venture concept is not driven by technology. Too bad for us technologist, but that is the fact. We have to work on real problems not on interesting “crossword battles”.
There were many other interesting ideas in the talk, but I will conclude with quoting Emil saying “Do not compete with Silicon Valley cooperate“. I think this a general statement; we all should stick to it especially at the university.
And I am concluding with inviting you for discussion and questions.

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