Searching for innovation

Innovation is about finding a better way of doing something. Like many of the new development buzzwords (which many of them are over-used on many business documents), the concept of innovation originates from the world of business. It refers to the generation of new products through the process of creative entrepreneurship, putting it into production, and diffusing it more widely through increased sales. Innovation can be viewed as t he application of better solutions that meet new requirements, in-articulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as a consequence, new, that “breaks into” the market or society.

Innoveracy: Misunderstanding Innovation article points out that  there is a form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth. The definition of innovation is easy to find but it seems to be hard to understand.  Here is a simple taxonomy of related activities that put innovation in context:

  • Novelty: Something new
  • Creation: Something new and valuable
  • Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
  • Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful

The taxonomy is illustrated with the following diagram.

The differences are also evident in the mechanisms that exist to protect the works: Novelties are usually not protectable, Creations are protected by copyright or trademark, Inventions can be protected for a limited time through patents (or kept secret) and Innovations can be protected through market competition but are not defensible through legal means.

Innovation is a lot of talked about nowdays as essential to businesses to do. Is innovation essential for development work? article tells that innovation has become central to the way development organisations go about their work. In November 2011, Bill Gates told the G20 that innovation was the key to development. Donors increasingly stress innovation as a key condition for funding, and many civil society organisations emphasise that innovation is central to the work they do.

Some innovation ideas are pretty simple, and some are much more complicated and even sound crazy when heard first. The is place for crazy sounding ideas: venture capitalists are gravely concerned that the tech startups they’re investing in just aren’t crazy enough:


Not all development problems require new solutions, sometimes you just need to use old things in a slightly new way. Development innovations may involve devising technology (such as a nanotech water treatment kit), creating a new approach (such as microfinance), finding a better way of delivering public services (such as one-stop egovernment service centres), identifying ways of working with communities (such as participation), or generating a management technique (such as organisation learning).

Theorists of innovation identify innovation itself as a brief moment of creativity, to be followed by the main routine work of producing and selling the innovation. When it comes to development, things are more complicated. Innovation needs to be viewed as tool, not master. Innovation is a process, not a one time event. Genuine innovation is valuable but rare.

There are many views on the innovation and innvation process. I try to collect together there some views I have found on-line. Hopefully they help you more than confuze. Managing complexity and reducing risk article has this drawing which I think pretty well describes innovation as done in product development:

8 essential practices of successful innovation from The Innovator’s Way shows essential practices in innovation process. Those practices are all integrated into a non-sequential, coherent whole and style in the person of the innovator.

In the IT work there is lots of work where a little thinking can be a source of innovation. Automating IT processes can be a huge time saver or it can fail depending on situation. XKCD comic strip Automation as illustrates this:

XKCD Automation

System integration is a critical element in project design article has an interesting project cost influence graphic. The recommendation is to involve a system integrator early in project design to help ensure high-quality projects that satisfy project requirements. Of course this article tries to market system integration services, but has also valid points to consider.

Core Contributor Loop (CTTDC) from Art Journal blog posting Blog Is The New Black tries to link inventing an idea to theory of entrepreneurship. It is essential to tune the engine by making improvements in product, marketing, code, design and operations.






  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America

    More broadly, mindfulness meditation isn’t warm and fuzzy. In a certain sense it’s cool and clinical. It involves, among other things, examining your feelings and deciding whether to buy into them, whether to let them carry you away.

    Obviously, America could stand for people to be a little less susceptible to getting carried away by their feelings. But the contribution mindfulness can make to bridging the great tribal divide is more powerful than that simple formulation suggests. To appreciate this potential, you have to understand how subtle the psychology of tribalism is.

    Tribal psychology involves, at one level, some obvious ingredients: rage, vengeance, loathing—the kinds of raw emotions you might imagine when you imagine tribes literally at war. But the psychology of tribalism also involves—in fact, I’d say, it mainly involves—cognitive biases that warp our perception of the world.

    Cognitive biases have gotten a lot of attention in the popular psychology literature over the past decade.

    Consider the role confirmation bias can play in “fake news,” false or deeply misleading information that spreads widely, typically via social media.

    Such information is sometimes spread cynically and knowingly. But often it is spread unknowingly, by people who click “retweet” or “share” without first investigating what they’re sharing. A

    Indeed, if you pay close attention at the moment you’re sharing this kind of news on social media, you may observe a sequence of feelings: a positive feeling upon seeing the news, the subtle but palpable urge to spread it, and the feeling of gratification you get upon spreading it—a gratification that is deepened if this addition to the nation’s discourse then gets a lot of retweets, shares, or likes. These are the feelings that can make you part of the fake news problem.

    Obviously, meditation won’t singlehandedly end fake news. But I think it would reduce the fuel supply for false and slanted information. And that could make a big difference, because the problem with such information isn’t just that it confuses the people who believe it. It also has an unfortunate influence on the people who don’t believe it—the people in the tribe who didn’t spread it. It reinforces their belief that the people in the other tribe are, at worst, knowingly lying and, at best, deeply confused.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Fast Forward Labs CEO: ‘If every idea on the roadmap is a good idea, that scares me a bit’
    Hilary Mason on Cloudera acquisition, AI hype and getting enterprises to experiment

    Businesses’ aversion to risk means they miss out on the potential rewards of machine-learning projects – but some still have impractical ideas about what artificial intelligence can really offer them.

    That’s according to Hilary Mason, founder of analytics and algorithm research biz Fast Forward Labs, which was last month acquired by Hadoop-flinger Cloudera.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tribbles’ Creator Eyes Our Disruptive Future

    Sci-fi author David Gerrold makes predictions for AI, IoT, biotech, energy and data security, and calls humor a “defining aspect” of intelligence. We’d expect no less from the guy who foresaw the trouble with Tribbles.

    David Gerrold is most famous for having written the Star Trek episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” But his science fiction includes the first description of a computer virus and explores the nature of artificial intelligence (in his 1972 novel “When HARLIE Was One”), as well as covering big-picture sci-fi themes ranging from galactic empires to time travel. I recently managed to pin down the energetic author to talk about his visions for the future.

    Opening with a witty, “I write science fiction; predicting the future is harder,” Gerrold started the conversation by talking about energy sources and energy management. “We are definitely shifting away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources. Solar and wind are the most cost-effective right now, but we are likely to need nuclear power as well. Thorium-based reactors might be the safest way to go.”

    There are “safe technologies,” Gerrold said. “The problem has always been getting the power to the consumer. So there will have to be significant advances in battery technology. We’re already seeing some significant advances in the laboratory, if they can scale up, that’ll be a good start, but … storing enough power in a practical container has always been the weak link in the chain.”

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Innovation should be a school subject – Commissioner Navracsics

    Innovation should be taught as a subject in European schools, according to Tibor Navracsics, the EU’s Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, who says that education can be a defining factor in the life of young scientists.

    ‘Education can be a decisive force, an engine in the socialisation of young scientists,’ he said. ‘It is important to have the institutions to support those young kids who have the aspiration to become a scientist.’

    He was speaking at the annual European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) conference, held in Budapest, Hungary, on 16 and 17 October, which aimed to discuss the direction of innovation in Europe.

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    An 11-year-old has become ‘America’s Top Young Scientist’ for her sensor detecting lead in water

    11-year-old Gitanjali Rao won this year’s Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her winning invention was a sensor that can more accurately detect lead levels in water compared to current methods.

    “The idea just came to me when I saw my parents testing for lead in our water,” Rao, a seventh-grader, told Business Insider. “I went, ‘Well, this is not a reliable process and I’ve got to do something to change this.’”

    They can either use lead-testing strips, which are fast but not entirely accurate; or they can send the water to the EPA for analysis

    Over the course of the summer, Rao worked with 3M scientists to bring her proposed sensor to life. The device, which Rao named Tethys after the Greek goddess for water, uses carbon nanotubes to detect the presence of lead. She tuned, or “doped,” the carbon nanotubes specifically to detect lead, pairing the device with a mobile app displaying the water’s status.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    This Doctor Diagnosed His Own Cancer with an iPhone Ultrasound
    Can a smartphone-enabled ultrasound machine become medicine’s next stethoscope?

    Every marketer wants the perfect story to tell. But if you’re in medicine, you don’t want it to be about yourself.

    Earlier this year, vascular surgeon John Martin was testing a pocket-sized ultrasound device developed by Butterfly Network, a startup based in Guilford, Connecticut, that he’d just joined as chief medical officer.

    He’d been having an uncomfortable feeling of thickness on his throat. So he oozed out some gel and ran the probe, which is the size and shape of an electric razor, along his neck.

    On his smartphone, to which the device is connected, black-and gray images quickly appeared. Martin is not a cancer specialist. But he knew that the dark, three-centimeter mass he saw did not belong there. “I was enough of a doctor to know I was in trouble,” he says. It was squamous-cell cancer.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Spare me the confected ‘Innovation Theatre’ that is hackfests and their ilk
    Sure, the ideas spurt out in a torrent, but they’re no longer potent

    HackFests, innovation days, ideas portals and other initiatives of this nature are the same: lots of excited activity, but with no possibility of results.

    I call this “innovation theatre” because the activity itself is quite fun. Sure, extra cleaning can be required in Boardroom Two every now and then and, but we emerge satisfied that we are doing our best.

    We are not meant to take them seriously, nothing really happens as a result of the effort put into them and the poor young kids who get tricked into participating in this kabuki style thought harvesting are left with an empty and slightly dirty feeling after walking out of the CIO’s office after collecting their “Prize”. We’ve all been there.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Most innovative companies according PwC research

    Biggest R&D Investors:, Inc.
    Alphabet Inc.
    Intel Corporation
    Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd
    Volkswagen AG
    Microsoft Corporation
    Roche Holding AG
    Merck & Co., Inc.
    Apple Inc.
    Novartis AG

    Most innovative companies:

    Alphabet Inc.
    Apple Inc., Inc.
    Tesla, Inc.
    Microsoft Corporation
    Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.
    General Electric Company
    International Business Machines Corporation
    Facebook, Inc.
    Alibaba Group Holding Limited

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The 2017 Global
    Innovation 1000 study

    Investigating trends at the world’s 1000 largest corporate R&D spenders.

    Will Stronger Borders Weaken Innovation?

    The flow of talent, investment, and ideas that has boosted companies’ global R&D efforts may soon be impeded by the rise of economic nationalism.

    Economic nationalism is motivated by a range of intentions, many of which continue to be hotly debated. But there is an unintended consequence that has received less attention to date: As many politicians and policymakers in the world’s major economic powers look inward, the world of innovation has been thrown into uncertainty. The global innovation model long embraced by leading multinationals, one based on the free flow of information, money, and talent across borders, is at risk.

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Design thinking , Finnish design thinking or design thinking, is in particular the term and method chosen by service design offices. It strives for agile, user-centered problem solving. The model was developed in the United States already in the 1960s, but it has slowly gained foothold in international big companies that are not considered design houses.

    Software companies such as SAP and Citrix have adopted the method. Nabergoj mentions that even the Singapore government used the design thinking method when designing its entry process again.

    “It will take a long time to develop something new and it will not be accepted. Why? No one asked the customer or the end user what they really wanted and what their real problems and knowledge were. Sometimes the IT function asks, but it does not always try to work according to the wishes. It is believed that the problems are better known to the customer and often start after the first solution. It’s a bit hypocritical. ”

    Platan has seen how iteration and quick testing and experimentation with users or customers are often forgotten. He criticizes inward-looking organizations that spit out the products out of the end user.

    “It is an introvert organization that delivers high quality products, but it has to understand that they also serve the actual customers of the company. In the design thinking process they learn it. It’s got to see what they produce and how to get it. ”


  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    On how to be an inventor: Because the world is so complicated, you have to be a “domain expert” to find solutions to problems. “But the danger is that once you’re a domain expert, you can be trapped by that knowledge.” You have to approach things with childlike curiosity. Inventors are the experts with beginners minds, he says.


  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Turn Medical Imaging From 2D Into 3D With Just $10

    One of the modern marvels in our medical toolkit is ultrasound imaging. One of its drawbacks, however, is that it displays 2D images. How expensive do you think it would be to retrofit an ultrasound machine to produce 3D images? Try a $10 chip and pennies worth of plastic.

    The team mounted the sensor onto the side of the probe with a 3D printed collar. This relays the orientation data to the computer running software that sutures the images together into a complete 3D image in near real-time, turning a $50,000 ultrasound machine into its $250,000 equivalent.

    How a $10 microchip turns 2-D ultrasound machines to 3-D imaging devices

    Technology that keeps track of how your smartphone is oriented can now give $50,000 ultrasound machines many of the 3-D imaging abilities of their $250,000 counterparts—for the cost of a $10 microchip.

    The key to the technology is a fingernail-sized microchip that mounts onto a traditional ultrasound probe—the plastic scanner that slides over gel-slathered skin to relay two-dimensional images of what lies beneath.

    Just like a Nintendo Wii video game controller, the chip registers the probe’s orientation, then uses software to seamlessly stitch hundreds of individual slices of the anatomy together in three dimensions.

    The result is an instant 3-D model similar in quality to a CT scan or MRI, said Joshua Broder, M.D., an emergency physician and associate professor of surgery at Duke Health and one of the creators of the technology. Two-D ultrasound machines with higher resolution have clearer 3-D pictures.

    “With 2-D technology you see a visual slice of an organ, but without any context, you can make mistakes,” Broder said. “These are problems that can be solved with the added orientation and holistic context of 3-D technology. Gaining that ability at an incredibly low cost by taking existing machines and upgrading them seemed like the best solution to us.”

    Both Duke and Stanford are testing the technology in clinical trials to determine how it fits in the flow of patient care. The creators believe some of the most promising uses could be when CT scans or MRIs are not available, in rural or developing areas, or when they are too risky.

    “With trauma patients in the emergency department, we face a dilemma,” Broder said. “Do we take them to the operating room not knowing the extent of their internal injuries or bleeding, or do we risk transporting them to a CT scanner, where their condition could worsen due to a delay in care? With our new 3-D technique, we hope to demonstrate that we can determine the source of bleeding, measure the rate of bleeding right at the bedside and determine whether an operation is really needed.”

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Leaky Pipe: Why Women Leave Engineering

    In recent years, the Women in Microwaves—a subset of the IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE)—has created networking opportunities, recognized accomplished women in the industry, and delved into why women do not enter or stay in microwave engineering. Typically, much of this effort is put into events during Microwave Week, when the International Microwave Symposium is held.

    In recent years, the U.S. microwave industry has put more emphasis on attracting and retaining women engineers. The Israeli industry faces many similar and yet some different issues.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Six straits for excellent engineers

    1. Natural curiosity
    2. Self-organized
    3. Detail-oriented
    4. Good analytical skills
    5. Strong mathematical skills
    6. Good communication skills


  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Conspiring with engineers helps make science great

    Though science is more about acquiring knowledge and engineering more about applying it, the two passions often coexist in the same individual. Engineers possess the spirit of discovery, too. And a lot of scientists harness their findings for the betterment of humankind.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Inspiring the next generation of potential technical talent in electronics

    At the MEMS Executive Congress (MSEC) 2017 in Silicon Valley, I had the pleasure of meeting with two members of the top management team from SEMI, the organization that sponsors this event (last year SEMI integrated the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group into their organization as a strategic partner). Joining me from SEMI were Ajit Manocha, appointed President and CEO in February of this year, and Jonathan Davis, Global VP of Industry Advocacy. Our mutual area of interest was educating young potential engineers for our industry.

    The two leaders discussed talent challenges that the semiconductor industry is now facing in the ‘talent pipeline’ of highly skilled workers. There are so many unfilled key positions in the semiconductor industry; I heard this first-hand from MEMS and sensor companies as well as fab owners at this event. Challenges abound with an aging workforce, retention issues, H1B Visas, diversity, and more.

    In their presentation, Davis and Manocha discussed an MSEC flash poll where some of the biggest talent issues were:

    Attracting qualified candidates critical to the company’s success
    Having open, unfilled STEM positions
    Companies have MEMS/sensor-related jobs not existing three years ago
    Competing for talent with companies outside the industry

    Later, when we met privately, we had a vivid discussion regarding what SEMI does for the growth of the industry and, also about their passion for cultivating tech/engineering talent early on for the global electronics chain.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    You are never going to have breakthrough ideas without risk – Dr Hermann Hauser

    High-risk, high-reward ideas in areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and synthetic biology are typical contenders for support from the EU’s new European Innovation Council (EIC), which aims to help European innovators and entrepreneurs scale up their ideas internationally, according to Dr Hermann Hauser, serial entrepreneur, who is a founding partner of Amadeus Capital and founder of ARM in the UK.

    He heads up the EIC advisory board, which on 20 November published their first set of recommendations for the future direction of the EIC.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Tech as We Know It Would Not Exist Without Immigrants

    In January, when President Donald Trump issued an executive order limiting immigration, the news was met with clenched fists in Silicon Valley. On big tech campuses, like Facebook and Google, there were protests, rallies, and boycotts. Of the hundred-some companies that signed an amicus brief protesting the decision, most were tech companies. This sudden political awakening, some argued, was confirmation of tech’s liberal slant. Of course the young employees who populate the Valley bleed blue.

    Here’s the other interpretation of what inspired the top rungs of tech companies to stick their necks out in protest: America’s tech industry is wholly reliant on immigrants. Big name founders, from eBay’s Pierre Omidyar to Elon Musk, are immigrants.

    Big name founders, from eBay’s Pierre Omidyar to Elon Musk, are immigrants. If you count the first-generation offspring of immigrants, the number grows. (Let’s all remember that Steve Jobs is the child of a Syrian refugee.)

    Innovation is bred when diverse viewpoints intersect, and that only happens if you can get all of those diverse ideas in the room. As Silicon Valley has emerged as a beacon for the most groundbreaking companies, its ability retain its ordination is reliant on attracting a steady supply of the best ideas—regardless of their country of origin.

    Thanksgiving, like the tech industry, would not exist without immigration.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    ‘The Death of the MBA’

    U.S. graduate business schools — once magnets for American and international students seeking a certain route to a high income — are in an existential crisis. They are losing droves of students who are balking at sky-high tuition and, in the case of international applicants, turned off by President Trump’s politics.

    The death of the MBA

    Why it matters: The once-venerated MBA is going the way of the diminished law degree, pushed aside by tech education. Graduates of the top 25 or so MBA schools still command the elite Wall Street and corporate jobs they always did, but the hundreds of others are scrambling, and some schools are shutting down their programs. Survivors are often offering new touchy-feely degrees like “master of social innovation.”

    The background: Most top-ranked U.S. business schools are doing just fine. Sixteen of the top 25 reported a jump in MBA program applications for the 2016-2017 academic year, and four schools — Yale, Columbia, Carnegie Melon, and the University of Chicago — saw double-digit leaps, per Poets & Quants, a website that covers graduate business education.

    The problem: In the more than 350 programs that didn’t make the top ranks, rising tuition costs and smaller returns in the form of employment and income have forced a rethink of the traditional MBA degree.

    Trump administration’s immigration policies are one reason. According to a GMAC survey conducted in February, 67% of prospective international MBAers would rethink their eventual study destination if they thought they’d be unable to obtain a work visa following the completion of their degree.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Innovative ideas can get perverted up the decision tree.

    How bad decision making could undermine good innovation

    How bad decision making could undermine good innovation
    Posted 4 hours ago by Ron Miller (@ron_miller)
    How bad decision making could undermine good innovation
    Here’s a scary thought for decision makers inside large organizations grappling with digital transformation. You can actually be innovative and have mechanisms in place to react to disruptive forces, and still get steamrolled as layers of internal management turn your creative ideas into something unrecognizable.

    Kodak was certainly an early victim of digital disruption, but Wang says the company was not simply passive or unaware.

    Rather, she sees a company that couldn’t take that idea and fully understand the implications of digital transformation.

    They never saw the problem as converting their customers to a digital world, but rather as finding a way to increase their brick and mortar presence. That ended up taking the form of a kiosk that sort of answered a digital user need of printing out hard copies from the digital system. It wasn’t a terrible idea, but it completely missed the real digital mark.

    “This really big idea [the digital camera], got shoehorned into a footnote of a footnote of a footnote as it traveled up the chain of command. Kodak discovered something new, but their decision making process didn’t account for it,”

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    IoT Skill Shortage Ahead

    The growing Internet of Things is opening up a new range of jobs that require specific IoT skills–and we’re already seeing a shortage of qualified candidates.

    According to Zebra Technologies’ inaugural Intelligent Enterprise Index, 62 percent of companies plan to deploy IoT initiatives company-wide in the future and 42 percent of enterprises are spending at least $3.1 million annually on IoT. So, there’s a time crunch to ramp up training and education to catch up to the demand for the needed skills.

    The industry is currently experiencing a major shortage of qualified IoT professionals, and it could persist for the next five to seven years. This shortage is echoed across artificial intelligence and DevOps, and is becoming increasingly acute.

    The first step toward mitigating the staffing crisis is by offering specific certifications and intensive boot camps geared to the new trends and high demand roles. This will fill some of the most critical and urgent positions, but only gets us so far.

    Because IoT and AI also involve handling sensitive data and humanitarian issues these areas require candidates that have soft skills.

    In a recent Northeastern University survey of 500 members of the IEEE 38% of respondents ranked data aggregation and analysis as the biggest career challenges.

    Particularly in Silicon Valley, we see many individuals with liberal-arts backgrounds who would be extremely successfully in technical roles, provided they get the required education.

    This new population of IT leaders will have the emotional intelligence to guide complex conversations about the collision of digital and legacy cultures.

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The new era of multidisciplinary working environment and working life requires versatile capabilities. The STEAM model (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, Mathematics) combines a multidisciplinary and fruitful educational setting in which young people learn not just encoding, but also other modern operating environment requirements. For example, we at Skriwar have joined the Slush event to publish the 3D printing, design, and robot encoding in the STEAM model of our learning environment.


  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pain Points and Compromises: How Ajay Bhatt Engineered USB Into a Standard

    Ahead of his ACE Lifetime Achievement Award, Intel’s Ajay Bhatt reflects on a storied career, the IoT’s untapped potential and need of standards, and why USB connectors aren’t flippable.

    The co-inventor of USB is building a smart house. Since his retirement, Ajay Bhatt, who spent over two decades at Intel specializing in platform architectures and developing technologies such as accelerated graphics port (AGP) and PCI-Express, has spent the last year experimenting with the Internet of Things (IoT), specifically by building a own smart home.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Karatsevidis and the rest of the nine-person Eve team have spent the last few years building the V, a laptop-tablet hybrid in the mold of the Microsoft Surface, working in remarkable concert with a teeming community of users and fans to create the exact product they wanted. All that was left to do was make it, perfectly, tens of thousands of times in a row. Which Karatsevidis learned is harder than it looks.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Open source innovation is now all about vendor on-ramps

    AWS, Microsoft, and Google are all racing to figure out how to turn their innovations into open source on-ramps to their proprietary services

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    16 Bizarre Inventions That Never Stood A Chance

    Some inventors are forward-thinking geniuses who make the world a better place. These are not those inventors.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The 2017 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard

    The 2017 edition of the EU R&D Scoreboard (the Scoreboard) comprises the 2500 companies investing the largest sums in R&D in the world in 2016/17. These companies, based in 43 countries, each invested over €24m in R&D for a total of €741.6bn which is approximately 90% of the world’s business-funded R&D. They include 567 EU companies accounting for 26% of the total, 822 US companies for 39%, 365 Japanese companies for 14%, 376 Chinese for 8% and the rest-of-the-world (RoW) for 13%.

    Worldwide, companies’ R&D investment increased by 5.8% over the previous year, the sixth consecutive year of significant increases. The companies headquartered in the EU increased their R&D investments more than the global average up to 7.0%. This increase is similar to the US (7.2%) and substantially above Japan (-3.0%). Chinese companies increased their R&D investment by 18.8%.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rick Tetzeli / Fortune:
    History shows Apple’s success since 1998 has rarely hinged on initial designs but on innovation and improvement over time — A generation of peerless products made Apple the world’s most valuable company. Now some in the i-universe are questioning if the magic—in the post-Steve Jobs era—is still there.

    Has Apple Lost Its Design Mojo?

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Conference Launched to Empower Women in Tech

    Media coverage and “conversations” about women in technology kept the tech-world gender gap front and center in 2017. However, they are hardly enough to lift women to equal status overnight.

    Guys, 2017 was a women’s year, starting out with the Women’s March in January. That uprising and a controversial memo penned by an ex-Googler triggered a series of debates on “women and tech.” Articles began to pop up about the misogynist culture of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, the U.S government, etc. — until the year ended with a viral tsunami called #metoo.

    In short, “the woman card” got a lot of play last year.

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Conspiring with engineers helps make science great

    From what I can tell, there’s a fair amount of friendly rivalry between folks who call themselves “scientists” and those who call themselves “engineers.” Bill Nye, educated as a mechanical engineer, had to defend himself as the “Science Guy” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert earlier this year: “It’s physics, for four years, it’s physics,” he said. Dean of the Boston University College of Engineering, Kenneth R. Lutchen, has adamantly declared that “Engineers are not a subcategory of scientists,” going on to lament the fact that a 2010 Time magazine story about Thomas Edison used the word science many more times than engineering. And let’s not forget T-shirts with bold claims like: “Scientists dream about doing great things, engineers do them.” Ouch.

    Though science is more about acquiring knowledge and engineering more about applying it, the two passions often coexist in the same individual. Engineers possess the spirit of discovery, too. And a lot of scientists harness their findings for the betterment of humankind.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hack Your Own Computer Science Degree

    We ran across something interesting on GitHub of all places. The “Open Source Society University” has a list of resources to use if you want to teach yourself computer science for free. We found it interesting because there are so many resources available it can be hard to pick and choose. Of course, you can always pick a track from one school, but it was interesting to see what [Eric Douglas] and contributors thought would be a good foundation.

    Path to a free self-taught education in Computer Science!

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Design News Announces 2018 Golden Mousetrap Awards Finalists, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Dr. John B. Goodenough
    Honorees Recognized for Driving Progress in Product Design and Manufacturing

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why is health care so damn expensive?

    Never has there been more talk of innovation and yet more disappointment in the future than in the health care industry. AngelList shows almost a thousand startups just in the digital health space alone, and VCs invested $3.5 billion in digital health startups in just the first half of 2017

    All of that innovation has done practically nothing though to fix the single worst problem of modern American health care: it’s cost. Health care in the United States has never been more expensive.

    health care spending increased from 5% of U.S. GDP to about 17.5% of GDP

    We’re paying more, way more, than we used to, and yet our outcomes have never been worse.

    This is the problem known as “cost disease” — the rapidly escalating costs of basic human services like health care, housing, education, construction, and infrastructure. It’s a problem that plagues the developed world

    That in many ways is the story of cost disease in every industry.

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Teaming humans with robotic AI will remake modern manufacturing
    3D printing technology will play a critical role as well.

    “The government at the time recognized [the need for public education],” TIm Weber, Global Head of 3D Printing and Advanced Applications at HP, told Engadget. “Basically to uplift the skills of people in the United States to adapt to an industrial revolution.”

    The world is currently in the midst of its 4th Industrial Revolution — one driven by information and automation. As with previous revolutions, today’s technological advancements are threatening to upend established industry and labor practices through overwhelming productivity increases. Artificial Intelligence and machine-learning systems are not just fundamentally shifting the ways we interact with computers and data, they’re also changing how we’ll manufacture the modern world.

    We’ve been using robots to augment (and to a degree, replace) human efforts on the assembly line since the days of Henry Ford. Automation and AI are simply the next logical step in that advancement. Robots can serve in a variety of roles, from the design and prototyping stages through production and shipping.

    The days of “dumb” production line robots that repetitively weld or rivet in a preprogrammed sequence without fail are coming to an end. Tomorrow’s factories will run themselves and coordinate along the entire supply chain, with human oversight of course, but they won’t look — or operate — like any manufacturing facility you’ve seen before.

    “I believe that we are going to see localized manufacturing,”

    “I think about it like the Amazon Marketplace,” Weber said. Companies from all over the world gather there to do business under the Amazon banner. Weber envisions a day in which, while the designer of that toaster oven you’re about to buy may live in Lithuania, when you hit the order button, the toaster would simply print out at a local production facility for you to pick up.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Etla explained: Why so many research ideas are left untold?

    Only a few university research results will find their way to the market in Finland. About half of the researchers have made findings that they believe to have commercial potential. Most of the findings, however, remain in the drawer, explains Etla’s recent study.

    The report released by the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy today as a source of sustainable wealth (ETLA Reports 80) shows how research data can not be utilized, the third task is to support “transforming competence into a profitable business”.

    ” The observation is alarming in two ways. Firstly, it conflicts with the perception of Finland that Finland is a country of high technology and know-how. Secondly, the result is weak, despite very high inputs into science and research. The researchers’ share of the workforce in 2015 was the third highest in Europe, ”

    The vast majority of researchers who had responded to the survey had not made inventions in the last five years that they thought would have commercial potential.

    However, 43% of university respondents reported that they had made at least one of the inventions that would have had commercial potential. Of them, only 40% answered that they had promoted the exploitation of their findings. The most commercially available findings are made by engineers according to their own estimates.

    The most significant obstacle to commercialization in the survey was the lack of time. Researchers consider the problem system-oriented: the utilization of research findings is not rewarded and is not linked to performance management and core funding by universities.



  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    12 reasons why digital transformations fail

    Lack of CEO sponsorship, talent deficiency, resistance to change — if you’ve encountered any of the following issues, you may want to rethink your digital transformation before it grinds to a standstill.

    Digital transformations are fashionable these days. You won’t find an enterprise that isn’t leveraging some combination of cloud, analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning to better serve customers or streamline operations.

    But here’s a hard truth about digital transformations: Many are failing outright or are in danger of failing. Half of 400 U.S.-based senior executives polled by Wipro Digital in 2017 believe their company isn’t successfully executing 50 percent of their strategies. One in 5 say their company’s digital transformation is a waste of time.

    7 habits of highly effective digital transformations

    A technology-first approach to digital transformation is a recipe for disaster. Start instead by overhauling your organization with a customer-centric end goal in mind.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    China Is Now The World’s Biggest Publisher Of Scientific Articles, Overtaking The United States

    China’s meteoric rise to scientific prominence is continuing unabated. For the first time ever, China is now publishing more scientific articles than the United States, firmly staking its claim to being the world leader in research and development (R&D).

    This overshadowing has been a long time coming.

  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Longtime Google Engineer Quits; Says Company Can No Longer Innovate, Is Mired in Politics, and Has Become Absolutely Competitor-Focused

    Steve Yegge, a longtime Google engineer who gained popularity after his rant on Google+ went viral, wrote another rant on Wednesday, in which he announced he has left Google. His rationale behind leaving Google, in his own words:
    The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate. They’ve pretty much lost that ability. I believe there are several contributing factors, of which I’ll list four here. First, they’re conservative: They are so focused on protecting what they’ve got, that they fear risk-taking and real innovation. Gatekeeping and risk aversion at Google are the norm rather the exception. Second, they are mired in politics, which is sort of inevitable with a large enough organization; the only real alternative is a dictatorship, which has its own downsides. Third, Google is arrogant. It has taken me years to understand that a company full of humble individuals can still be an arrogant company. Google has the arrogance of the “we”, not the “I”. Fourth, last, and probably worst of all, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused. They’ve made a weak attempt to pivot from this, with their new internal slogan “Focus on the user and all else will follow.” But unfortunately it’s just lip service.

    Why I left Google to join Grab

    After nearly 13 years at Google, I have finally left the nest! Never thought it would happen. I always thought I would die at Google — maybe choking to death on one of their free chocolate brownies, or maybe finally having a heart attack over YouTube’s increasingly bizarre policy enforcement.

    It is difficult to pry people away from Google. Even after almost 20 years of operation, Google is still one of the very best places to work on Earth, just about any way you care to measure it.

    I have a lot of good stories saved up that I’d love to share. Google corporate didn’t much care for my blogging, and even though they never outright forbade it, I received a lot of indirect pressure from various VPs. So eventually I stopped. Sad.

    Why I left Google

    The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate. They’ve pretty much lost that ability. I believe there are several contributing factors, of which I’ll list four here.

    First, they’re conservative: They are so focused on protecting what they’ve got, that they fear risk-taking and real innovation. Gatekeeping and risk aversion at Google are the norm rather the exception.

    Second, they are mired in politics, which is sort of inevitable with a large enough organization; the only real alternative is a dictatorship, which has its own downsides. Politics, as ex-Google SVP Bill Coughran once said, is the best solution humanity has come up with to this problem in the past 5000 years: the problem of resource contention. So it’s not necessarily bad. But politics is a cumbersome process, and it slows you down and leads to execution problems.

    Third, Google is arrogant. It has taken me years to understand that a company full of humble individuals can still be an arrogant company. Google has the arrogance of the “we”, not the “I”.

    In short, Google just isn’t a very inspiring place to work anymore. I love being fired up by my work, but Google had gradually beaten it out of me.

  39. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Teardowns: The Engineer’s Heart and Soul

    You can learn a great deal about how electronic products work by taking them apart. EE Times and companion publications contain a wealth of teardowns for you to explore.

    Engineers love to take things apart. Sometimes it’s because a device no longer functions and we want to fix it. Sometimes we just want to take something apart to see how it works and what decisions a product’s designers made. Either way, we perform a teardown.

  40. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Most of the 2030 jobs have not even been invented

    Many are scared of robots, but the Finnish Dell EMC Country Director Mika Enberg believes that technological advances will bring positive changes. – According to the Institute of Future (IFTF) forecast, 85% of existing jobs in 2030 are not yet invented, Enberg reminds.

    According to a recent global study by Dell Technologies, decision-makers’ views on the future are twofold. Half of the 3800 business leaders who responded to the research predict that automated systems will release their time. The other half (50%) does not believe this. Similarly, 42% believe job satisfaction will increase in the future when work is directed to the machines. 58% of respondents disagree.


    ”Realizing 2030: The Next Era of Human-Machines Partnerships

  41. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Stanford undergraduate class encourages creativity in science

    Rather than having students learn and memorize established knowledge, professors Steven Block and Tim Stearns created a course to teach students how to think like scientists and pursue new answers.

    “What we’re really trying to convey in this course is not specific information – anyone can access the specific information that’s been learned by scientists over the years – but, rather, the way that you approach a question, using the tools of science, and come to a definitive answer as best you can,”

    It’s part of a trio of new “On Ramp” courses in the Biology Department, designed to “actively engage beginning students with the excitement of modern biology and develop the critical thinking, analysis, reading and communication skills required for the major.” It is also one of the only applied physics courses offered to undergraduates.

  42. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Race Of Nations

    Technology leadership is no longer just about companies. It is becoming a matter of national pride and survival, and semiconductors are at the epicenter.

    Technology is the next arms race, and this is not just about national defense in the traditional sense. Countries collectively are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into developing technology for the future, from education to outright grants and seed funding, and they are working with private industry to continue investing in their respective national futures.

    Which technologies and nations will win is unknown at this point. Areas such as AI, machine learning and cloud computing are not new concepts, but they have ignited a frenzy of activity. And autonomous vehicles were somewhere on the road map of the next 30 years until Tesla uncorked its self-driving software, setting off one of the biggest technology scrambles in decades.

  43. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Engineering in the Twilight of Moore’s Law
    It’s all about finding and riding the big waves

  44. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rethinking IT: Why Computer Scientists Should Care about Art, Chemistry and Biology

    Career advice for computer scientists and IT professionals: Talk to, listen to, and work with your peers in a multi-disciplinary environment.

  45. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Europe’s New R&D Program

    R&D programs in the EU have produced unparalleled collaboration opportunities. How could they be improved?

    European Union (EU) research, development and innovation programs have proved successful in recent decades. The current framework program (FP) Horizon 2020, with its 80 billion EUR total budget – around 17 billion EUR of which is allocated for Industrial Leadership – has produced unparalleled collaboration opportunities that no single European country can match on its own.

    Recommendation 1: The digital economy relies on advances in electronics. FP9 should play a driving role in fully integrating electronics manufacturing players into the European digital economy.

    Recommendation 2: The cost of research and development in electronics is increasing. To maintain rapid innovation in Europe, FP9 should provide unparalleled support to electronics manufacturing industry.

    Recommendation 3: Future applications need further collaboration. FP9 should build a stronger ecosystem in Europe, maintain a value-chain-approach and bear verticals in mind.

    Recommendation 4: Incremental innovation drives growth. FP9 should equally support incremental and disruptive innovation, as they are complementary.

    Recommendation 5: Industrial Leadership Pillar of Horizon 2020 has proved its success. FP9 should not water it down, but reinforce it.

    Recommendation 6: A multidisciplinary skills-set will be decisive. FP9 should support the acquisition and upgrade of skills needs in the digital economy.

    Recommendation 7: Horizon 2020 has facilitated SME participation thanks to simplification. FP9 should pay attention to low success rate, minimize lost efforts and simplify further.

    In conclusion, Horizon 2020 has delivered tangible results in pushing the borders of Europe’s research and innovation. The Commission’s recent communications on “Building a European Data Economy” as well as “the Renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy” have underlined a) the EU’s great potential in the digital economy and b) the need for further research, development and innovation in key enabling technologies such as electronics. SEMI believes that FP9 can bridge the Europe of today with the Europe of the future, powered by the digital economy, if the EU makes the right decisions.


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