Wednesday, June 27, 2012

7th Silicon Saxony Day - Accelerating Towards The Future?

At the fomer site of Qimonda in Dresden on the edge of the Dresdner Heide the 7th Silicon Saxony Day is currently taking place. The topic is the current state, and future outlook of the regional high-tech cluster Silicon Saxony, and the microelectronics economy in general in the region, and beyond.

The press talk at 11am GMT+2 stood under the topic "Will Clusters be the Technology Companies of the Future?" with representatives of four national cutting edge technology clusters at the podium. 

Rorbert Weichert, CEO of PR Piloten GmbH opened the press talk and led directly over to the panel directly.

Prof. Thomas Mikolajick, Cool Silicon Cluster  - Energy Efficiency Innovations from Silicon Saxony who gave a broad overview of the cluster's work since 2009. The named beneficials of it being the brand name, the larger network organisation, and most recently the initiative of Silicon Europe that is expected to accelerate from this autumn on.

Walter Birkhan - Airbusinesscluster Metropolregion Hamburg talked about the relevance of the cluster in an ever increasing air traffic (5% p.a. worldwide) and the challenges of having two Global Players (Airbus, Lufthansa) on board. He also mentioned that it took six years to build up the trust amongst its stakeholders, and the necessary networks. Efficient Airport 2030 (only in German) being one of the major projects currently under way.

Stephan Witt - BioEconomy Cluster a pretty new cluster focusing on the use of non-food biomass.

Dr. Peter Frey - SolarValley pointing out the future opportunities despite the present challenges in the global solar market as the cost of solar PV cells are decreasing exponentially (via "Abundance - The Future is Better Than You Think").  Currently the solar branche is in a situation where production exceeds demand by 100% which gives power to even more accelerating decrease of prices, and the rise of new producers in Asia. 

As Mr. Witt outlined it should be so that solar power should take the energy lead, and biomass re-use should more and more find its way in replacing fossil fuels in the chemical industry.

Finishing off it became clear to all in the room that the challenges of the decreasing funding schemes (especially for Eastern Germany) will drive new forms of cooperations, even though as Prof. Mikolajick pointed out it is the hope that funding will still flow, or at least reorganized in the future. The positive effects of the clusters will more become self-accelerating positive economic impact due to the closeness of its involved partners as Mr. Witt said. Which will be more than obvious for all that the region needs to become the breeding place of future global players.

Will this be the Abundance that is laid out in Peter Diamandis book? Or will iHub in Nairobi, Kenya, be one other role model of future citizen-based hotspots based on information technology, trust, and collaboration, as described in KPMG's High Growth Markets (from page 32 on)?

Copyright: own
Update 2012-07-13 Article in Sächsische Zeitung, 2009-05-23 which points to the back then and current need, connectors being able to span across between academic research to SME in the region as Hartmut Fiedler, Managing Director of VSW back in 2009, now Secretary of State for Economics, Work, and Traffic of Free State of Saxony, is pointing out.

Update: 2012-07-18 Cluster können Technologiekonzerne nicht ersetzen (Heiko Weckbrodt, DNN)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gaining Momentum Towards the Knowledge Singularity

It must have been February this year when IEEE Technology Time Machine (a three-day conference on technologies beyond the year 2020) reached my awareness. Information technology being the main topic, I already envisioned an accelerated buzz on the local media, and beyond - Dresden being one of the major hotspots in emerging technologies within the European Community. The activity on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ being pretty low, yet not unexpected, as the worldwide engineering community around IEEE has members, engineers, who are certainly not that active on social networks.
So, by good chance I got the opportunity to cover the event live. I did so mainly on Twitter using the hashtag #IEEETTM, and I certainly was not the only one (see Slideshare presentation). During and after the conference there was little to no local activity. "Could it be the English language that held back contributors?" - was my question immediately coming to mind.

Mid-June, there appeared the next conferences in the high-tech context happening in Dresden. And another surprising phone call got me invited as official blogger in residence for the Kick-off of the World Forum of Universities of Resources on Sustainability at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg (the world's oldest mining university). Best time to check on the above research question, this time 90% of the participants from none-German-speaking countries. The hashtag #WFURS going to the East coast of the U.S. 

Again not much activity during (astonishing, as the free WiFi-connection was given to all participants) the event, and even less afterwards - despite the fact that the 63rd Research Forum followed directly after the World Forum.

The observed phenomenon accelerated the urge to dig deeper whether we have already a kind of  Information Singularity, where overburdening (seemingly) conferences and social media activities are kicking people's awareness of what is going on in the region completely off. Traditional media, with a strong urge of control and journalistic professionalism slowing down the flow of knowledge, that totally new, and unpredicted behavior of the actors in the system happen. A "Black Hole" of information, and knowledge overflow?

A more than interesting research question to follow up - stay tuned.

2012-07-05 Update: Social Media is the Glue of Innovation via game changer Charles van der Haegen

Monday, June 4, 2012

Future of Science & Research Funding

Due to the current turbulent discussions, activities, and movements around the globe it becomes evident that the present forms of financing are outdated in times that are accelerating so fast that as soon as the funding is right, the business model has changed already.

A year back in time, a dear FB friend from California, Michael Herrler, initiated a crowdfunding approach for scientific research, NextGenCrowd. An interesting project, even though it by now has not managed to get either larger attractiveness by the stakeholders, or real impact on the scientific research (worldwide).  At present times lots of scientific research is financed by public funding via grants. These arrangements are time consuming, and often take quite a chunk of researcher's daily work, which certainly could be more effectively used in their main work domain. 

Especially constrained are efforts of research-based spin-offs that on one hand depend on their main enabler, the education institution their makers come from, and the public domain of funding. In Germany, and especially the Eastern parts (formerly GDR) quite a thriving science community could be built up over the past 20 years. Now with the European Community extending towards even more Eastern countries the current funding will go down significantly, and funding will be mostly given in the future to technology-related work.

Which future paths may come when the questions are on the table, "How do we monetarize our research findings by getting a viable startup up, and going?"- "Will the efforts of networking across disciplinary boundaries be supported, and which ways?"

What are the possible future funding schemes currently hidden by our "blind spot" (individually and collectively)?

Some examples of new ways of funding are (and more on Crowdnavigator itself):
Crowdnavigator - a quite new crowdfunding matchmaking platform - seems to open new paths of collaboration to give new answers to the questions above.
Seedmatch (currently in German only) - a Dresden-based crowdfunding platform could also be a valuable source for technology-based startups to check out for funding

Credits go to Philippe Greier making the connection on Facebook (a case of serendipity)