Picture used by GABA, the organizors of the conference

On Wednesday and Thursday I went to the “Building Innovation Bridges between Silicon Valley and Europe” Conference. It was very nice to meet all these European people here in the Bay Area. I liked the first day meeting in Google headquarters (these are actually several buildings, it reminded me a little bit the one of Intel). It was very stimulating listening to Alberto Savoia, Director of Engineering at Google and the extreme innovation concept. Among other things, I think it’s a fantastic idea what Google does with their employees and the 20% rule, in which they can work in whatever project they have created on aprox. 1/5 of his time. It’s just a great example to encourage intrapreneurship, and being successful.

On the next day there were several panels. They were very knowledgeable, however I would have to say that I was not very satisfied with the couple of questions I did. I have to say though, that I’m now more interested on policy making than business strategies, so here my bias. The first question was to a one to a panel of 5 experts in Venture Capital and Business Angels, was “How can we improve the ‘ecosystem’ (the always use this word here) the European cities in order to have investors invest in our own young people, such as young engineers who would like to start a business?” They dodged the question, I think basically because they don’t care about European cities. The only thing they basically answered was something like “send your kids here, pay us, and we will teach them how to innovate”. Somewhat egocentric.

My second question was directed to a panel of representatives of of several European organizations, the majority subsidized by the national governments (Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Italy, and others in the room present, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, UK, Czech Republic, etc.). My question was something like: “The majority of your organizations are specialized in bringing European entrepreneurs to the Silicon Valley… (some nod their head). We talk about bridges, and that bridges are for traffic in both directions. In a previous panel a successful European entrepreneur here said that in 20 years, never a politician or any organization has asked to come back. He said he would really think about it if being asked. China, who has been mentioned here several times about being a strong competitor, has a strong policy of sending people abroad and really building bridges with their people, so they can give/come back. Does any of you, or do you know about any organization who assists entrepreneurs to bring back to Europe?”. They avoid the question, and basically it was “no”. Which I found somewhat disturbing.

Everyone wants to be wanted. I think that this is something we’re missing. There is an amazing knowledge overseas, who could really help back at home, but they’re completely forgotten. To put an example, more than a century ago when they wanted to electrify the country, they did not know how to do it. Then they made efforts to recruit Scandinavians who had worked in the U.S. cities setting up the electric grid. They came back and helped in a crucial sector. (Jensen, Johnson, Lorenz & Lundvall, 2007. “Forms of Knowledge, Modes of Innovation and Innovation Systems”, Research Policy. Vol. 36 ( 5), 680-693.). People felt wanted. I know this also from me personal experience. My father he’s originally from Ecuador. He has always dreamed of going back there since he left in the 1970’s. He would be the most happy man in the world if his home country would ask him to do something. In fact in one occasion they asked them to do something and he really devoted his heart to do it.

I think there is a lot of potential in that strategy. Reinhard Bütikofer, a politician from the EU Parliament, he picked the idea and suggested some stuff in that line. Like inviting some successful expats entrepreneurs in America, to come back to Europe to give some presentations to EU entrepreneurs.

All in all, it was a good conference. GABA is very nice organization and I wish them the best. But we should be careful, as an American guy told me, to do not “drink the kool-aid” that many here in Silicon Valley are trying to sell. We need to take an effort to learn from these amazing firms, but also keep in mind that, innovation is NOT only high-tech.

Now I have to write a lot of people, I got plenty of cards after asking the questions.

1st Year Presentation

June 4, 2009

At Aalborg University PhD students are required to give a 1 Year progress report. A professor (different from the supervisor/s) acts as opponent. A discussion about the project usually follows with other professors and students. In my case there were 15 people and I obtained critical feedback for my project, from professors and students. For these I’m very grateful.

Here it is my presentation, not all slides were presented as I didn’t want to surpass the 25 minutes. I had some technical problems, but of course with presentations, we always have to count on Murphy’s Law.

Anyways, I welcome any other idea.

AAG Conference 2009. This week (22-27 March) has been an excellent learning and networking experience. All imaginable subjects related to geography had their opportunity to show their state-of-the-art. I enjoyed many good presentations and debates in the field of economic geography, and many other interesting areas. There were 6500 geographers, from 60 countries (1500 non-American).
The only thing that I missed was that this year in Las Vegas (2008 Boston, 2010 Washington D.C.) there were not enough entertainment activities in the area. Just kidding.
This was my presentation, I was one of the 15 people who presented on the strand of Entrepreneurship and Geography, part of the Economic Geography section.
I have learnt many things, and I will give you a summary of things that impressed me the most, especially for my research area. But this will be in 2 weeks, right now I’m on vacation. I’m in California visiting good friends.

In my last post of 2008, about the consumer confidence and the economic crisis in the press. I kept wondering what happened in 1998, when the consumer confidence indicators went down and all the press started talking about the economic crisis, something like what happened in 2008. The thing is that I did not remember anything significant in 2008, I kept wondering until today.

If you look back now for example at the Dow Jones (not very good to economic research is better the S&P), the biggest stock market.

Dow Jones 1997-2009

Dow Jones 1997-2009

You say… 1998?… the what?… How come that for the media and consumers the “economic crisis” was something as big as now. You just think people and media went ballistic. Then you look a little bit more back and compare. Another quick look at google finance:

Dow Jones 1995-1998

Dow Jones 1995-1998

Then you say, oh! ok, I see. Understandable, now I know why people and media could be worried in 1998.

I don’t like too much the stock market thing, although once I was in an university competition number 5 out of 200 (that is I was the fifth with more benefits in the stock market). But I had it clear that I would only put real money on the stock market if I never need that money, and so far I’ve never had “enough” money. Which I’m happy to have done looking at the last chart. I’d rather use it for businesses I’ve created. I had always had the luck to be around the right people).

Anyways; people feelings, media reports and the stock market, seem close subjects but just so impossible to study them for academic purposes. That is, to try to find the truth out there.

The Intrapreneur Manifesto.

January 20, 2009

This is slide show is by Saranyan. I like him a lot for various reasons, but basically he’s one of the greatest bloggers on intrapreneurship, he’s from Asia where according to the internet is THE place of entrepreneurship, he also studied a PhD, he has very good points and he makes very good presentations! I have been with him since his “begininings” :)

Check this presentation. The only thing I would change it’s about starting a coffee, as I don’t feel it’s good for me. I guess I can do it with an apple.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to present to the Team Project at Frederikshavn. My supervisor and my colleague Isaac were with me. I’m really excited with the project, meet the people and specially getting an outstanding feedback. I have to say that this is a raw presentation that will be improved after the discussion we had.

Three scholars

August 8, 2008

During these week for different reasons I have found articles and books written by Zoltan J. Acs. I have to admit, that I have not read his work too much (until these last days), but I’m currently overwhelmed with his work. Right now, I’m reading his latest book “Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy” (2008) in which he compiles various articles. 

I know I have read things from him, but I guess I’m now in the process that any research goes through, rediscovering authors. 

Another book, that I have in my desk and it’s an interesting reading, (less academic than the previous), is another 2008 book. “The Illusions of Entrepreneurship: The Costly Myths That Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Policy Makers Live By”. This book is written by Scott A. Shane. Many things he writes I have already studied and know, but is a nice way how he puts it. He writes very well too.

I’m also deeply grateful to all the material than my former professor and the secondary supervisor of my master thesis, has on his website. I need to write him, I don’t think he knows I started a phd. He’s Dr. Philip Shapira. One of the smartest teachers I’ve ever had. His notes are coming at handy when I start teaching soon.   

p.s. Today is 8-8-8, and it was the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.