Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cambridge Open Innovation Workshop - Session 5

First off, I must say that this has been an excellent workshop put on by the MIT-Cambridge Exchange, and the Program for Regional Innovation. Stuart Madnick, Chander Velu and Sam Samarawickrama. Cambridge is really a wonderful setting for an academic setting and our hosts were wonderfully friendly and welcoming.

Overall, the content has been fantastic. Each of the five sessions provided value from the academic and the business perspective. I know the link to this blog is being distributed to forum presenters. If any of you would like to post your slides or additional details on your work, please e-mail me at tedchan@gmail.com. Ten minutes wasn't enough to go in-depth on a lot of the work that was done.

Session 5 was about innovation ecosystems and it was interesting to hear about what is going on in the EU versus at MIT versus a new initiative in the Middle East.

Both Professor Stuart Madnick and Professor Georgeta Vidican from MIT talked about the Masdar City iniative in Abu Dhabi. This is a pretty ambitious effort by the UAE to help diversify their economy by creating a leading worldwide research and academic hub focused on innovative research and generating intellectual property. How much is being spent to do this? Well, $22 billion to build Masdar City, and then $15 billion for the Masdar Initiative. So clearly, they are not kidding around. There are a lot of questions about how to do this that both Stuart and Georgeta have been looking upon. There is need to understand the university’s view in the local economy. There is a need to understand what industries are viable regionally and perhaps compare to ecosystems that have evolved them in other cities. For a new university, there must also be mechanisms for knowledge exchange and growth.

There has been a lot of talk in academia about fostering innovation ecologies, whether it’s cities or countries trying to create the next Silicon Valley, or Ken Morse helping universities in Spain, New Zealand and everywhere else to simulate MIT’s ecosystem. These talks followed along those lines. Chuck Eesley actually talked specifically about the MIT innovation system, highlighting competition, flexibility and a deep commitment to research as keys. He mentioned a four success factor that I thought was especially interesting – an enthusiasm for opening doors. That is really something I have noticed during my time at MIT – in the ecosystem, there are structure to help you get access to everything you need to successfully innovate and commercialize technology, from advice to funding to technology.

Dr. Linas Eriksonas discussed funding industry-academy partnerships in the EU. Here there is clearly concentration in certain regions, along with certain universities/industries that are better at getting EU funding. Andre Slowak’s talk also tied in with policy – he discussed a number of policy issues in the UK that are driving regional innovation. I have to admit that these two talks went a bit over my head as someone who is not from Europe. I would invite anyone who can provide a better summary to e-mail me.

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