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jerryking : r&d   42

Why moonshots elude the timid of heart
February 14, 2020 | Financial Times | by Tim Harford.

* Loonshots — by Safi Bahcall.
* Major innovations tend to result from investment that is high-risk, high-pay-off.
* Executives at the Cambridge, UK outpost of an admired Japanese company fret that success rate of their research and development, at 70%, was far too high. It signals that research teams had been risk-averse, pursuing easy wins at the expense of more radical and risky long-shots.
* Disney, the belief is that Disney if you weren't failing at half of your endeavours, you weren’t being brave or creative enough.
* The problem is a societal/systematic preference for marginal gains over long shots---It is much more pleasant to experience a steady trickle of small successes than a long drought while waiting for a flood that may never come.
* marginal gains do add up, but need to be bolstered by the occasional long-shot breakthrough.....Major innovations such as the electric motor, the photo­voltaic cell or the mobile phone open up new territories that the marginal-gains innovators & tinkerers can further exploit.[JCK: from Simon Johnson, "public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy."]
* the UK Conservative party’s promise to establish “a new agency for high-risk, high-pay-off research, at arm’s length from government” — a British version of the much-admired US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency.
* DARPA's failure rate is often said to be around 85%.
* a low failure rate may indeed signal a lack of originality and ambition.
* Arpa hires high-quality scientists for short stints — often two or three years — and giving them control over a programme budget to commission research from any source they wish.
* the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a foundation, deliberately looks for projects with an unusual or untried approach, but a large potential pay-off.....HHMI gets what it pays for — more failures, but larger successes, compared with other grant-makers funding researchers of a similar calibre.
* how long will UK politicians tolerate failure as a sign of boldness and originality? Eventually, they will simply call it failure.
* the trilemma: Be cautious, or fund lots of risky but tiny projects, or fund a few big, risky projects from a modest budget and accept that every single one may flop.
audacity  big_bets  boldness  books  breakthroughs  Cambridge  DARPA  failure  game_changers  high-reward  high-risk  incrementalism  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  marginal_improvements  moonshots  originality  politicians  public_investments  publicly_funded  quick_wins  R&D  risk-aversion  science  small_wins  spillover  success_rates  thinking_big  Tim_Harford  timidity  United_Kingdom 
7 days ago by jerryking
Opinion | America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence
October 7, 2019 | The New York Times | By Tim Wu
Mr. Wu is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.”

The brilliant 2014 science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, depicts the fate of civilizations as almost entirely dependent on winning grand races to scientific milestones. Someone in China’s leadership must have read that book, for Beijing has made winning the race to artificial intelligence a national obsession, devoting billions of dollars to the cause and setting 2030 as the target year for world dominance. Not to be outdone, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently declared that whoever masters A.I. “will become the ruler of the world.”..... if there is even a slim chance that the race to build stronger A.I. will determine the future of the world — and that does appear to be at least a possibility — the United States and the rest of the West are taking a surprisingly lackadaisical and alarmingly risky approach to the technology........The plan seems to be for the American tech industry, which makes most of its money in advertising and selling personal gadgets, to serve as champions of the West. Those businesses, it is hoped, will research, develop and disseminate the most important basic technologies of the future. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are formidable entities, with great talent and resources that approximate those of small countries. But they don’t have the resources of large countries, nor do they have incentives that fully align with the public interest (JCK: that is, "business interests" vs. "public interest"]..... The history of computing research is a story not just of big corporate laboratories but also of collaboration and competition among civilian government, the military, academia and private players both big (IBM, AT&T) and small (Apple, Sun)......Some advocates of more A.I. research have called for a “Manhattan project” for A.I. — but that’s not the right model. The atomic bomb and the moon rocket were giant but discrete projects. In contrast, A.I. is a broad and vague set of scientific technologies that encompass not just recent trends in machine learning but also anything else designed to replicate or augment human cognition.....the United States government should broadly fund basic research and insist on broad dissemination..... the United States needs to support immigration laws that attract the world’s top A.I. talent. The history of breakthroughs made by start-ups also suggests the need for policies, like the enforcement of antitrust laws and the defense of net neutrality, that give small players a chance.... the computer scientist and entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, in his book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” describes a race between China and Silicon Valley, as if the latter were the sum total of Western science in this area. In the future, when we look back at this period, we may come to regret the loss of a healthy balance between privately and publicly funded A.I. research in the West, and the drift of too much scientific and engineering talent into the private sector.
antitrust  ARPA  artificial_intelligence  Beijing  Bell_Labs  Big_Tech  business_interests  China  China_Rising  FAANG  high-risk  immigration  industrial_policies  Kai-Fu_Lee  Manhattan_project  publicly_funded  R&D  risks  science_fiction  Silicon_Valley  talent  Tim_Wu  Vladimir_Putin  Xerox 
october 2019 by jerryking
Two MIT Economists Share A Bold Plan To Jump-Start The Economy In New Book
April 9, 2019 | Boston Public Radio | By Arjun Singh

On paper, America’s economy seems to be excelling. In March, the economy added 196,000 new jobs while the unemployment rate sat at 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, American startups like Uber and Pinterest are expected to go public with multi-million or higher valuations. But MIT economists Jonathan Gruber and Simon Johnson believe this hides a darker truth about the American economy: It’s slowly falling behind the rest of the world.

In their new book, “Jump-Starting America: How Breakthrough Science Can Revive Economic Growth and the American Dream,” Gruber and Johnson lay out their plan for how the United States can reclaim its mantle as a leader in not just gross domestic product, but also innovation and science. The key, they say, is government investment and encouragement in the scientific sector.......The economists are optimistic, however, that the United States can regain its lead and eventually develop a robust economy that sees economic growth and investment in the sciences. And not just in places like Boston or San Francisco, but throughout the rest of the country, where Johnson says there is a wealth of untapped talent and potential. They estimate there are at least 102 potential scientific hubs scattered across the U.S.

“The coastal superstar cities have become extremely expensive, but there’s a tremendous amount of talent spread across the U.S.,” Johnson said. “Good living conditions also matter. People also want to live in a place [with a] good climate, much better commute times than you have in the megacities, and low crime rates. Those are our very simple, transparent criteria.”..... public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy.
books  breakthroughs  coastal  competitiveness_of_nations  economists  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  MIT  moonshots  NSF  public_investments  R&D  science  Simon_Johnson  spillover  superstars  U.S. 
august 2019 by jerryking
The Missing Piece in Big Food’s Innovation Puzzle
April 1, 2019 | WSJ | by By Carol Ryan.

.......In truth, they are becoming reliant on others to do the heavy lifting. Specialist food ingredient companies like Tate & Lyle and Kerry Group work with global brands behind the scenes to come up with new ideas. These businesses can spend two to three times more on innovation as a percentage of turnover than their biggest clients.

One part of their expertise is overhauling recipes. Ingredients companies can do everything from adding trendy probiotics to taking out excess sugar or gluten. Nestlé got a hand from Tate & Lyle to remove more sugar from its Nesquik range of flavored drinks, while Denmark’s Chr. Hansen helped Kraft Heinz switch from artificial to natural colors in the U.S. giant’s Macaroni & Cheese......Another service food suppliers offer is coming up with successful innovations to help revive sales. Nestlé’s ruby chocolate KitKat, which has become very popular in Asia, was actually created by U.S. cocoa producer Barry Callebaut, for example.

=============================================
See also, "For innovation success, do not follow the money"
07-Nov-2005 | Financial Times | By Michael Schrage "There is
no correlation between the percentage of net revenue spent on R&D
and the innovative capabilities of an organisation – none,"...Just ask
General Motors. No company in the world has spent more on R&D over
the past 25 years. Yet, somehow, GM's market share has
declined....R&D productivity – not R&D investment – is the real
challenge for global innovation. Innovation is not what innovators
innovate, it is what customers actually adopt. Productivity here is not
measured in patents granted but in new customers won and existing
customers profitably retained..
customer_profitability  Big_Food  brands  flavours  food  foodservice  health_foods  healthy_lifestyles  ingredients  ingredient_diversity  innovation  investors  Kraft_Heinz  large_companies  Mondelez  Nestlé  new_ideas  R&D  shifting_tastes  start_ups  Unilever 
april 2019 by jerryking
Apple’s Executive Shake-Up Readies Company for Life After iPhone
Feb. 18, 2019 | WSJ | By Tripp Mickle.

Apple Inc. is shaking up leadership and reordering priorities across its services, artificial intelligence, hardware and retail divisions as it works to reduce the company’s reliance on iPhone sales......The primary reasons for the shifts vary by division. But collectively, they reflect Apple’s efforts to transition from an iPhone-driven company into one where growth flows from services and potentially transformative technologies......Apple has also trimmed 200 staffers from its autonomous-vehicle project, and is redirecting much of the engineering resources in its services business, led by Eddy Cue, into efforts around Hollywood programming......The competitive landscape could complicate Apple’s efforts to diversify beyond the iPhone. Media services like Netflix Inc. and Spotify Technology SA have a head start and more subscribers; Google’s autonomous-vehicle initiative has logged more miles on the road; and Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo speakers have put Alexa into millions of homes.

Apple spent $14.24 billion on research and development last year, a 23% increase from the year prior........Though the iPhone still contributes about two-thirds of Apple sales, the company has encouraged investors to focus on a growing services business, which includes streaming-music subscriptions, app-store sales and mobile payments.....The services business also is key to preserving iPhone loyalty. Just as Amazon has used media and music offerings to increase the value of Prime membership, Apple executives view its mobile payments, music service and coming video offering as ways to encourage current iPhone owners to buy future Apple handsets.....Apple is also expected to lean on its artificial-intelligence team to personalize the services on people’s devices.
actors  Apple  App_Store  Apple_IDs  artificial_intelligence  autonomous_vehicles  celebrities  competitive_landscape  hardware  Hollywood  iPhone  leadership  mobile_payments  overreliance  priorities  R&D  retailers  services  smart_speakers  streaming  subscriptions  Tim_Cook 
february 2019 by jerryking
Support more thinkers, not only the tinkerers
NOVEMBER 4, 2017 | FT | Dr Simon Roberts, Stripe Partners, London SE1, UK

In my experience this is not just a decision based on the economics of innovation — it’s a shift informed by the changing temporal rhythms of modern organisations. The mantra “move fast and break things” appears to motivate the leadership and delivery teams of even the most slothful companies far beyond Silicon Valley. When research becomes a tool for rapid, iterative, continual improvement, not an activity committed to open-ended exploration and unconstrained thinking, it is unlikely to lead to the sort of breakthroughs in technology, products or strategic outlook that successful companies (and productive economies) depend on.
Tim_Harford  letters_to_the_editor  R&D  innovation  thinking  tinkerers  breakthroughs 
november 2017 by jerryking
Inside the brutal transformation of Tim Hortons - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
LAST UPDATED: WEDNESDAY, FEB. 22, 2017

Since taking over the iconic chain in 2014, its new Brazilian owner, 3G Capital, has purged head office, slashed costs and squeezed suppliers. Shareholders are happy, but is 3G tearing the heart out of Timmy’s?.....3G is regarded as ultra-disciplined owners who are sticking to the same playbook they have followed at companies including Burger King, Anheuser-Busch, Kraft Foods and Heinz: massive layoffs, replacing legacy managers with hungry youngsters and, above all, a fanatical devotion to financial benchmarks and cost-cutting. (It remains to be seen whether this will also be the approach for RBI’s latest acquisition, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.)....Will 3G's analytics-driven overhaul of Tim Hortons—using the same template the private equity firm’s founders have deployed at railroads, brewers and food makers—succeed in the long run, or is it in danger of cutting the heart out of a Canadian icon? ......Suppliers are also feeling the squeeze. From the get-go, RBI made it clear it would be reviewing vendor relationships. And the company pushed for better terms, including extensions on bill payments to as much as 120 days from 30 days or less. Maple Leaf Foods, a major partner that supplied meat to Tim Hortons, declined to accept the new terms, and walked away....
Former employees also say RBI has cut back on product research and development spending at Tim Hortons, offloading some of that work to suppliers. That’s not uncommon in the fast-food world, but it can be risky. “Suppliers can do a great job with innovating and R&D, but you’re limited to what the supplier is trying to develop,” ......3G has never encountered a brand quite like Tim Hortons. It isn’t just another coffee company. It is a Canadian destination, an integral part of many Canadians’ day and a brand that defines us, to some degree, around the world.......“The risk, in looking at Tim Hortons through the lens of efficiency alone, is to miss the greatest value of the asset, and that is the Tim’s brand and its deep connection to the fabric of the country,” says Joe Jackman, founder of strategic retail consultant Jackman Reinvents, whose clients have included Old Navy, Hertz, Rexall and FreshCo. “You can’t cost-cut your way to retail nirvana.”
3G_Capital  brands  Canadiana  coffee  community_support  cost-cutting  cultural_touchpoints  data_driven  downsizing  efficiencies  fast-food  franchising  goodwill  head_offices  iconic  JWT  layoffs  Maple_Leaf_Foods  Marina_Strauss  organizational_culture  playbooks  private_equity  R&D  RBI  restructurings  staying_hungry  supply_chains  supply_chain_squeeze  Tim_Hortons  transformational  walking_away 
february 2017 by jerryking
Trump and the Lord’s Work
MAY 3, 2016 | The New York Times | Thomas L. Friedman.

This was a really bad time for us to be stuck. I’m just finishing writing a new book, which is partly about the inflection point we hit around 2007. In 2007, Apple came out with the iPhone, beginning the smartphone/apps revolution; in late 2006 Facebook opened its doors to anyone, not just college and high school students, and took off like a rocket; Google came out with the Android operating system in 2007; Hadoop launched in 2007, helping create the storage/processing power for the big data revolution; Github, launched in 2007, scaling open-source software; Twitter was spun off as its own separate platform in 2007. Amazon came out with the Kindle in 2007. Airbnb started in 2007.

In short, on the eve of Obama’s presidency, something big happened: Everything started getting digitized and made mobile — work, commerce, billing, finance, education — reshaping the economy. A lot of things started to get very fast all at once. It was precisely when we needed to double down on our formula for success and update it for a new era — more lifelong learning opportunities for every worker, better infrastructure (roads, airports, rails and bandwidth) to promote the flow of commerce, better rules to incentivize risk-taking and prevent recklessness, better immigration policies to attract the world’s smartest minds, and more government-funded research to push out the boundaries of science and sow the seeds for the next generation of start-ups.

That was the real grand bargain we needed. Instead, we had the 2008 economic meltdown, which set off more polarization, and way too much gridlock, given how much rethinking, reimagining and retooling we needed to do....It’s clear: Capitalism driven more by machines and robots poses new challenges for both white-collar and blue-collar workers.
Tom_Friedman  Donald_Trump  Github  Campaign_2016  GOP  populism  blue-collar  economic_downturn  white-collar  digital_economy  mobile  recklessness  automation  infrastructure  R&D  smart_people  digitalization  inflection_points 
october 2016 by jerryking
You Need an Innovation Strategy
JUNE 2015 | HBR | Gary P. Pisano.

Without an innovation strategy, innovation improvement efforts can easily become a grab bag of much-touted best practices: dividing R&D into decentralized autonomous teams, spawning internal entrepreneurial ventures, setting up corporate venture-capital arms, pursuing external alliances, embracing open innovation and crowdsourcing, collaborating with customers, and implementing rapid prototyping, to name just a few. There is nothing wrong with any of those practices per se. The problem is that an organization’s capacity for innovation stems from an innovation system: a coherent set of interdependent processes and structures that dictates how the company searches for novel problems and solutions, synthesizes ideas into a business concept and product designs, and selects which projects get funded. Individual best practices involve trade-offs. And adopting a specific practice generally requires a host of complementary changes to the rest of the organization’s innovation system. A company without an innovation strategy won’t be able to make trade-off decisions and choose all the elements of the innovation system........Long-term investments in research are risky: .....
Rather, a robust innovation strategy should answer the following questions:

** How will innovation create value for potential customers?
**How will the company capture a share of the value its innovations generate?
**What types of innovations will allow the company to create and capture value, and what resources should each type receive?

There are four essential tasks in creating and implementing an innovation strategy. The first is to answer the question “How are we expecting innovation to create value for customers and for our company?” and then explain that to the organization. The second is to create a high-level plan for allocating resources to the different kinds of innovation. Ultimately, where you spend your money, time, and effort is your strategy, regardless of what you say. The third is to manage trade-offs. Because every function will naturally want to serve its own interests, only senior leaders can make the choices that are best for the whole company.

The final challenge facing senior leadership is recognizing that innovation strategies must evolve. Any strategy represents a hypothesis that is tested against the unfolding realities of markets, technologies, regulations, and competitors.
best_practices  Corning  corporate_investors  crowdsourcing  decision_making  HBR  howto  innovation  organizational_capacity  questions  R&D  resource_allocation  strategy  taxonomy  tradeoffs 
april 2016 by jerryking
The humbling of Valeant’s Michael Pearson - The Globe and Mail
TIM KILADZE
The humbling of Valeant’s Michael Pearson
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Mar. 22, 2016

What we’re left with: A “Canadian” company we should happily disown, and critical reminders that certain business rules should never be broken. Chief among them: Debt is never a problem until, suddenly, it is; markets will love you until, suddenly, they don’t; and the roll-up game, driven by endless acquisitions, is nearly impossible to sustain.....By slashing R&D spending costs, Mr. Pearson freed up cash flow to buy more companies – whose R&D departments were then gutted to repeat the same trick. To juice earnings, he acquired Ottawa-based Biovail in 2010, which came with a Barbados-based subsidiary. Valeant started ushering U.S. profits to offshore tax domiciles – marking the first-ever pharmaceutical tax inversion and sending its corporate tax rate to the mid-single digits.

To fuel acquisitions, Mr. Pearson borrowed tens of billions of $ of incredibly cheap debt. By mid-2015, Valeant had $31-billion (U.S.) in debt and paid over $1-billion a year in interest.

There were warning signs these bold acts would backfire. Last March, Warren Buffett’s inner circle started to inflict damage. At an investor meeting, Charlie Munger, one of the value investor’s best friends, said he was “holding his nose” by looking at Valeant, adding that the company “wasn’t moral.”

That cautionary message did little to deter two of Valeant’s top investors: the Sequoia Fund – which has ties to Mr. Buffett – and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management. Whatever criticisms were hurled at the drug maker, they stood by it, repeatedly stressing that they believed in Mr. Pearson. Their faith in him seemed nearly biblical. And because they showed resolve, hedge funds kept piling in – momentum investing at its very worst. By the end of June, nearly 100 of them had stakes in the drug maker........One of the best lessons from the global financial crisis was that everything became correlated when the U.S. housing market crashed. The same is true for Valeant. Investigations into its pricing policy made investors worry about revenue; worries about the income statement morphed into fears about balance-sheet debt; leverage woes prevented Valeant from borrowing more to fund future acquisitions.

The cynicism turned investors’ momentum strategy on its head.
Valeant  Bay_Street  CEOs  pharmaceutical_industry  Charlie_Munger  Warren_Buffett  M&A  boards_&_directors_&_governance  correlations  hedge_funds  Pershing_Square  William_Ackman  debt  R&D  cash_flows  roll_ups 
march 2016 by jerryking
How to Avoid the Innovation Death Spiral | Innovation Management
By: Wouter Koetzier

Consider this all too familiar scenario: Company X’s new products developed and launched with great expectations, yield disappointing results. Yet, these products continue to languish in the market, draining management attention, advertising budgets, manufacturing capacity, warehouse space and back office systems. Wouter Koetzier explores how to avoid the innovation death spiral....
Incremental innovations play a role in defending a company’s baseline against competition, rather than offering customers superior benefits or creating additional demand for its products.
Platform innovations drive some market growth (often due to premium pricing rather than expanded volume), but their main function is to increase the innovator’s market share by giving customers a reason to switch from a competitor’s brand.
Breakthrough innovations create a new market that the innovator can dominate for some time by delivering new benefits to customers. Contrary to conventional wisdom, breakthrough innovations typically aren’t based upon major technological inventions; rather, they often harness existing technology in novel ways, such as Apple’s iPad.......A recent Accenture analysis of 10 large players in the global foods industry over a three-year period demonstrates the strategic costs of failure to innovate successfully. Notably, the study found little correlation between R&D spending and revenue growth. For instance, a company launching more products than their competitors actually saw less organic revenue growth. That’s because the company made only incremental innovations, while its competitors launched a balanced portfolio of incremental, platform and breakthrough innovations that were perceived by the market as adding value.
Accenture  attrition_rates  baselines  breakthroughs  correlations  disappointment  downward_spirals  howto  incrementalism  innovation  kill_rates  life_cycle  portfolios  portfolio_management  platforms  LBMA  marginal_improvements  Mondelez  moonshots  new_products  novel  product_development  product_launches  R&D  taxonomy 
march 2016 by jerryking
Humanity’s Last Great Hope: Venture Capitalists - WSJ - WSJ
By CHRISTOPHER MIMS
Oct. 20, 2014

as government has pulled back from spending on basic R&D, in general so too has big business. Long gone are the days when large corporate research campuses like Bell Labs came up with fundamental breakthroughs like the transistor.

This is where venture capitalists could step up—if they choose to fund the right startups.

Much of the basic research that used to be conducted within companies is now resident in startups, which technology companies gobble up at every opportunity. Acquisitions are the new R&D, and “acqui-hires” are the new staff development. Successful venture capitalism is about managing risk, so partners at most VC firms invest in businesses they think will become viable, or at least worthy of an acquisition, in the shortest time possible.
acquihires  Bell_Labs  breakthroughs  Christopher_Mims  fundamental_discoveries  hiring  innovation  mergers_&_acquisitions  risk-management  R&D  start_ups  vc  venture_capital 
october 2014 by jerryking
Innovation vacuum imperils Alberta’s economic juggernaut - The Globe and Mail
TODD HIRSCH
Innovation vacuum imperils Alberta’s economic juggernaut Add to ...
SUBSCRIBERS ONLY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, May. 22 2014

The province ranked second to the bottom in research and development spending, employment in high-tech and knowledge-intensive services, and investment in machinery and equipment. It ranked dead last in labour productivity growth in construction. In fact, most of Alberta’s serious shortfalls point to two broad areas of concern: innovation and productivity.

Innovation is the “it” word these days in economic circles, but to be honest, it’s a bit slippery to define. The Alberta Economic Development Authority (AEDA) uses the Conference Board of Canada’s definition of the former: “The extraction of economic and social value from knowledge.” And productivity is simply the ability to produce more with fewer resources. Economists agree that without these, you’re doomed.

Some of Alberta’s shortcomings in innovation have explanations. Lower-than-average R&D spending reflects the uniqueness of oil and gas extraction. The petroleum industry doesn’t operate like other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, information and communications technology, or consumer-driven manufacturing where research is done in a laboratory and spending is easy to track. Oil and gas “research” is much more likely to take place at the drill site or in the actual physical exploration. It’s done through trial and error – tweaks to methods and practices are constantly improving efficiency and reducing costs. It never gets counted as “spending on R&D” but it doesn’t mean research isn’t happening.

Alberta’s last place ranking in labour productivity growth in construction corroborates a Statistics Canada report on business innovation, released in February. Apparently, only 12.5 per cent of Alberta construction companies are actively investing in new technologies, compared to about 33 per cent in Ontario and 30 per cent nationally.
Alberta  innovation  innovation_policies  oil_industry  Todd_Hirsch  shortcomings  R&D  laggards  trial_&_error  productivity  innovation_vacuum  economists 
september 2014 by jerryking
Will we ever be proud of our oil sands? - The Globe and Mail
KONRAD YAKABUSKI
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, Jun. 23 2014

Unless politicians and industry do a better job at making the case for their exploitation, they will sow regional tensions and exacerbate a national malaise about the direction the country is heading.

The first step involves spelling out for Canadians just how critical the oil sands are to the national economy. In 2011, Albertans contributed $19-billion more to federal coffers than Ottawa spent in their province. No other province comes close to making as large a contribution to the federation. Indeed, at least seven out of 10 provinces are net beneficiaries of federal spending. Without Alberta’s wealth, federal transfers to have-not provinces would need to shrink, compromising the quality of life and public services for millions of Canadians.

Those who argue that other, cleaner industries would fill the economic vacuum if we shut down the oil sands ignore the fact that countries do best by exploiting their comparative advantages. Ours lie in resources. Though our technology sector has occasionally produced global success stories, our collective expertise still lies mainly in large-scale resource development.

Canadians, however, also want to be seen as conscientious global citizens. Our Prime Minister (if not this one, the next) could build a consensus behind developing the oil sands if he were to make shrinking its environmental footprint a national priority. Such a project would be a boon to domestic innovation, producing economic and social returns for the whole country.
oil_sands  oil_industry  Alberta  Konrad_Yakabuski  R&D  oil_patch  pride  economic_vacuum  comparative_advantage  natural_resources  resource_extraction  environmental_footprint 
june 2014 by jerryking
Putting More Stock in Agricultural R&D
March-April 2013 | THE FUTURIST | Rick Docksai.

Praxis Strategy Group
agriculture  innovation  farming  R&D  sub-Saharan_Africa 
may 2014 by jerryking
What Israel can teach about fostering business innovation - The Globe and Mail
BARRIE McKENNA

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Nov. 17 2013
Israel  innovation  R&D 
november 2013 by jerryking
Oil Firms Pool R&D, Come Up Empty So Far - WSJ.com
Nov. 13, 2013 | WSJ | By Chester Dawson.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford earlier this year had pledged that the amount of tailings would stop growing by 2016 and that tailing ponds would "disappear from Alberta's landscape in the very near future."

But most industry officials say that is unlikely without major technological breakthroughs.

To help speed up efforts to reduce or reclaim tailings, Cosia's members have pledged to make all of their patented and propriety research available to one another in perpetuity, without charging royalties.

"That's a huge step by the industry and I can tell you big global companies thought long and hard before they did it—but they did," said Marcel Coutu, CEO of Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., the largest shareholder in major oil-sands producer Syncrude Canada Ltd.

But by creating a monopoly among oil-sands producers in environmental technology, some industry officials say that Cosia may actually stunt development—by discouraging innovation from third parties who are unwilling to surrender their patents wholesale.

"It's not to our benefit to spend a whole lot of money on R&D and then just hand it over," said Preston McEachern, research director at Tervita Corp., a Calgary-based environmental services provider. "That, to us, is a real bar against bringing new innovations forward and helping achieve these great outcomes," he told attendees at a recent oil-sands conference in Fort McMurray.
oil_industry  R&D  oil_sands  joint_ventures  oil_patch  patents  third-party  collaboration  Alberta  innovation  pooling  environmental_services 
november 2013 by jerryking
Canadian business, heal thyself
Oct. 18 2013 | The Globe and Mail |Jeffrey Simpson.

, the lessons BlackBerry/RIM once followed still seem urgent for the Canadian economy: research, innovation, productivity improvements, global perspective beyond the United States.

On Oct. 1, the Council of Canadian Academies summarized seven years of studies into Canada’s capacities in science, technology, innovation and productivity, releasing a report, Paradox Lost (the title must have come from the fertile brain of the brilliant Peter Nicholson, a member of the advisory group), that laid it on the line.

The government has been doing its part, especially in funding university research, the council concluded – although more money would always be welcome. What’s lacking is an “aggressively innovative business sector.”...Canadian companies rely excessively on U.S. innovation. They are content either to play an upstream role (extracting resources) or as subsidiaries of foreign companies. Too many Canadian businesses settle, the council reported, for a “profitable low-innovation equilibrium” (a fancy way of saying second-best) that conditions Canadian business’s behaviour and ambitions.....This problem of lagging innovation and inadequate R&D coincides with four major trends that will slow Canadian growth. First, the United States is in relative decline. Second, the growing global appetite for commodities means environmental challenges and volatile price swings. Third, scientific revolutions in fields such as genomics and nanotechnology will shape business and social life, but Canadian firms are behind the curve in both areas. Fourth, our aging population will be a drag on economic growth (and government revenues).
Jeffrey_Simpson  R&D  innovation  economic_stagnation  resource_extraction  America_in_Decline?  commodities  volatility  aging  complacency  Peter_Nicholson  aggressive  beyondtheU.S.  genomics  nanotechnology  productivity  paradoxes  laggards 
october 2013 by jerryking
Canada gets good and bad news from a new measure of innovation
Jul. 22 2013 | The Globe and Mail | DAVID PARKINSON.

how does Canada fare? Among major industrialized economies, it’s a middle-of-the-pack innovator – nestled in between France and Sweden, a discernible notch or two below the traditional innovative leaders such as the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan. (Among all countries globally, Canada ranks 11th.)

But the details of Canada’s ranking by this measure are more telling. By the university education measure, Canada’s top three schools rank higher than every other country except the U.S. and Britain. Canada’s citations of scientific research are in the top five in the world.

Where Canada’s innovation falls down, however, is in international patents. Canada ranks a weak 19th in the world by this measure, well behind the likes of Denmark, Israel and even Barbados.

In short, we have great schools and world-class thinkers, but for some reason that’s not translating into a lot of global-scale breakthroughs. This finding suggests a need to address our policy approach to research and development; we’re stumbling on a critical step needed to convert big brains and great ideas into vehicles for economic growth and global leadership.
Canada  Canadian  innovation  metrics  competitiveness_of_nations  breakthroughs  patents  commercialization  mediocrity  industrial_economy  bad_news  R&D 
august 2013 by jerryking
Imitation doesn't equal innovation
May 17, 2010 | Nation's Restaurant News | Malcolm Knapp.
R&D  restaurants  innovation  copycats 
april 2013 by jerryking
Technology Implementation and Project Risk
You have to make sure your whole team understands what scarce resource you’re optimizing.
implementation  execution  R&D  testing  risk-assessment  project_management  frameworks 
july 2012 by jerryking
Playing Defense, Marketing Methods
Mar 1, 2006 | Inc.com| Ellen Neuborne.

Marketing is usually understood to mean building brands and capturing new markets. And it's often discussed in terms of sexy campaigns. But in the quest to make an impression, many companies ignore defensive strategies, which can be far more effective in warding off rivals...Defensive tactics make sense in a variety of situations, but they become critical when a company is under attack. A strong defense is especially important today as technology and globalization lower barriers to entry, leaving industry leaders vulnerable. "In times of turbulence, relationships and behaviors are loosened up and the glue that holds customers to one's product is weakest,"... A smart defense, he adds, is especially crucial for smaller companies, whose survival often depends on preserving relationships and guarding a niche. What's more, small companies typically have limited marketing budgets, and a defensive campaign often provides more bang for the buck.
marketing  small_business  strategies  R&D  relationships  defensive_tactics  branding  brands  turbulence  niches 
april 2012 by jerryking
Innovation and the Bell Labs Miracle
By JON GERTNER
February 25, 2012

Why study Bell Labs? It offers a number of lessons about how our country’s technology companies — and our country’s longstanding innovative edge — actually came about. Yet Bell Labs also presents a more encompassing and ambitious approach to innovation than what prevails today. Its staff worked on the incremental improvements necessary for a complex national communications network while simultaneously thinking far ahead, toward the most revolutionary inventions imaginable.

Indeed, in the search for innovative models to address seemingly intractable problems like climate change, we would do well to consider Bell Labs’ example — an effort that rivals the Apollo program and the Manhattan Project in size, scope and expense. Its mission, and its great triumph, was to connect all of us, and all of our new machines, together....Consider what Bell Labs achieved. For a long stretch of the 20th century, it was the most innovative scientific organization in the world. On any list of its inventions, the most notable is probably the transistor, invented in 1947, which is now the building block of all digital products and contemporary life. These tiny devices can accomplish a multitude of tasks. The most basic is the amplification of an electric signal. But with small bursts of electricity, transistors can be switched on and off, and effectively be made to represent a “bit” of information, which is digitally expressed as a 1 or 0. Billions of transistors now reside on the chips that power our phones and computers.

Bell Labs produced a startling array of other innovations, too. The silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered devices, was invented there. Two of its researchers were awarded the first patent for a laser, and colleagues built a host of early prototypes. (Every DVD player has a laser, about the size of a grain of rice, akin to the kind invented at Bell Labs.)

Bell Labs created and developed the first communications satellites; the theory and development of digital communications; and the first cellular telephone systems. What’s known as the charge-coupled device, or CCD, was created there and now forms the basis for digital photography.

Bell Labs also built the first fiber optic cable systems and subsequently created inventions to enable gigabytes of data to zip around the globe. It was no slouch in programming, either. Its computer scientists developed Unix and C, which form the basis for today’s most essential operating systems and computer languages.

And these are just a few of the practical technologies. Some Bell Labs researchers composed papers that significantly extended the boundaries of physics, chemistry, astronomy and mathematics. Other Bell Labs engineers focused on creating extraordinary new processes (rather than new products) for Ma Bell’s industrial plants. In fact, “quality control” — the statistical analysis now used around the world as a method to ensure high-quality manufactured products — was first applied by Bell Labs mathematicians.
innovation  history  AT&T  Bell_Labs  R&D  lessons_learned  incrementalism  breakthroughs  quality_control  inventions  moonshots  trailblazers  digitalization  high-quality 
february 2012 by jerryking
Drugs That Are as Smart as Our Diseases | Mind & Matter - WSJ.com
SEPT.17, 2011 | WSJ | By MATT RIDLEY. The very opposite of
Moore's Law is happening at the downstream end of the R&D pipeline.
The number of new molecules approved per billion dollars of
inflation-adjusted R&D has declined inexorably at 9% a year and is
now 1/100th of what it was in 1950....

Drugs must be designed to nudge whole networks rather than single
targets. e.g., to develop a treatment for the hospital infection
Clostridium difficile, e-Therapeutics drew a sort of spider's web of how
all the proteins on the outside of the bacterium interacted. From that
web, they identified crucial nodes in the network and, by trial and
error, selected a combination of molecules that could attack those
nodes.

A similar approach is showing promise for cancer and even neurological
disease. It means hitting multiple targets simultaneously, the targets
chosen by network analysis. Where diseases are complex, the cures will
be complex, too.
drugs  pharmaceutical_industry  R&D  decline  research  cancers  networks  complexity  disease  biochemistry  Moore's_Law  molecules  trial_&_error  multiple_targets  Clostridium_difficile 
september 2011 by jerryking
The Crossroads Nation - NYTimes.com
Nov. 8, 2010 By DAVID BROOKS. What sort of country will
America be in 2030 or 2050? Nobody has defined America’s coming
economic identity. ....We’re living in an information age. Innovation
and creativity are the engines of economic growth. ...Creativity is not a
solitary process. It happens within netwks. It happens when talented
people get together, when idea systems and mentalities merge....."In
2009, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Dir. policy planning at the State Dept.,
wrote an essay , “America’s Edge.”" for Foreign Affairs in which she
laid out the logic of this new situation: “In a networked world, the
issue is no longer relative power, but centrality in an increasingly
dense global web.” the U.S. is well situated to be the crossroads
nation. It is well situated to be the center of global ntwks and to
nurture the right kinds of ntwks Building that US means doing everything
possible to thicken connections: finance research; improve
infrastructure; fix immigration; reform taxes;
R&D  infrastructure  immigration  creativity  future  David_Brooks  networks  soft_power  U.S.foreign_policy  synchronization  orchestration  centralization  Anne-Marie_Slaughter  cross-disciplinary  cross-pollination  network_density  network_power  op_ed 
november 2010 by jerryking
For innovation success, do not follow the money
07-Nov-2005 | Financial Times | By Michael Schrage "There is
no correlation between the percentage of net revenue spent on R&D
and the innovative capabilities of an organisation – none,"...Just ask
General Motors. No company in the world has spent more on R&D over
the past 25 years. Yet, somehow, GM's market share has
declined....R&D productivity – not R&D investment – is the real
challenge for global innovation. Innovation is not what innovators
innovate, it is what customers actually adopt. Productivity here is not
measured in patents granted but in new customers won and existing
customers profitably retained...A successful innovation policy is a
competition policy where companies see innovation as a cost-effective
investment to differentiate themselves profitably. If a 1 % R&D
intensity buys market leadership, more power to them; if 15 % is what it
takes to keep up with the competition and satisfy customers, that is
fine, too.
Michael_Schrage  innovation  R&D  productivity  measurements  metrics  ROI  customer_acquisition  correlations  customer_adoption  customer_profitability  GM  decline  competition_policy  innovation_policies 
october 2010 by jerryking
Nestlé Plans Indian Center to Tap Low-Income Market - NYTimes.com
By HEATHER TIMMONS
Published: September 22, 2010
The Swiss food giant said Wednesday that it would open its first
research and development center in India, where it plans to use local
ingredients and spices as well as low-cost Indian research and
engineering to make products for India and the rest of the world....Like
many other Western companies, Nestlé is expanding in emerging markets,
where fast-growing economies and young populations mean an increasing
number of people can afford nonessential consumer goods. Nestlé expects
to get 45 percent of sales from emerging markets by 2020.

“We have to understand the consumer” in India and know how he or she
cooks, Mr. Zimmermann said. The company’s new research center will be
staffed mostly by Indians and will develop new products relying on
Indian cuisine, traditional ingredients and spices, he said.
India  Nestlé  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  R&D  emerging_markets  low-income 
september 2010 by jerryking
Driving ideas to success with plan for profit
March 31, 2008 | Western News | By Paul Wells, BA'89.
Research works best when its only spur is the curiosity and energy of
thoughtful investigators with the tools to follow hunches. But the
product of their work - ideas - is likeliest to leave the lab when it is
pulled out by entrepreneurs who have an eye on the market. It's
important to get that balance right. It's pointless to fund only
research that looks likely to pay off. You can't know which ideas will
pay off. But new ideas won't go anywhere without competent managers to
implement them. Roger Martin at the University of Toronto's Rotman
School of Management has persuasively demonstrated that if Canada has
fewer high-tech industries than the United States, it's not because
we're doing less science, it's because we have a smaller
university-trained management class. Western's Ivey School of Business
is a big part of the solution, not part of the problem.
UWO  Ivey  Rotman  Roger_Martin  Paul_Wells  curiosity  commodities  natural_resources  research  R&D  entrepreneurship  commercialization  management 
may 2010 by jerryking
More mileage to gain from bikes and B-52s
January 10, 2007 | Financial Times pg. 9 | By Alan Cane who
reviews "The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since
1900," by David Edgerton. Oxford University Press

Edgerton pursues three propositions:

First, that conventional histories of technological progress are partial, incomplete and weighted towards innovation and invention.

Second, that older technologies – the guillotine, the rickshaw, corrugated iron and the horse among them – have an importance in the modern world that is often overlooked by “innovation-centric” pundits.

Third, that “to rethink the history of technology is necessarily to rethink the history of the world”.
.....Edgerton targets what he perceives as sloppy and clichéd thinking that celebrates the new and innovatory and ignores the old and useful..... Edgerton attacks authors who treat the history of technology as a succession of “boys toys”, who laud their innovators and inventors as heroes, and who play down the importance of copying, adapting and transferring......Edgerton argues that Ikea, the Swedish retailer, is a “wonderful” example of his arguments. “First, of the continuing significance of what we take to be old, in this case, not just furniture, but wooden furniture, supplied obviously by forests. In terms of industry, it exemplifies beautifully the extension rather than the retreat of mass production, and its globalisation, producing fantastically cheap outputs. In terms of service industries it is an example of mass retailing and mass consumption of identical goods.”......not all technologies are successful, that economics and culture play a big part in the rate at which technologies are adopted by particular countries and how long they continue to be useful, and that innovation is not a sure road to prosperity.....investments in research and development does not necessarily lead to economic growth and that change is more frequently the result of the transfer of technologies between companies and countries.
book_reviews  reverse_innovation  think_threes  Ikea  furniture  R&D  books  policymakers  technology_transfers  copycats  technology  adaptability  mass_production 
february 2010 by jerryking
The Protocol Society
Dec. 22, 2009 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS. A protocol economy has
very different properties than a physical stuff economy. The success
of an economy depends on its ability to invent and embrace new
protocols, its' “adaptive efficiency,” -- how quickly a society can be
infected by new ideas. Protocols are intangible, so the traits needed to
invent and absorb them are intangible, too. First, a nation has to have
a good operating system: laws, regulations and property rights. Second,
a nation has to have a good economic culture: attitudes toward
uncertainty, the willingness to exert leadership, the willingness to
follow orders. A strong economy needs daring consumers (China lacks
this) and young researchers with money to play with (N.I.H. grants used
to go to 35-year-olds but now they go to 50-year-olds). See “From
Poverty to Prosperity,” by Arnold Kling and Nick Schulz and Richard
Ogle’s 2007 book, “Smart World,” When the economy is about ideas,
economics comes to resemble psychology.
David_Brooks  innovation  books  culture  adaptability  ideaviruses  risk-taking  R&D  N.I.H.  property_rights  regulations  rule_of_law  institutional_integrity  services  digital_economy  rules-based  intellectual_property  demand-driven  psychology  customer-driven  intangibles  behavioural_economics  protocols  poverty  prosperity 
december 2009 by jerryking
Indian Firms Shift Focus to the Poor
Oct 20, 2009 | Wall Street Journal pg. A.1 | by Eric Bellman.
With the developed world mired in a slump and the developing world
still growing quickly, companies are focusing on how to innovate, and
profit, by going straight to the bottom rung of the economic ladder.
They are taking advantage of cheap research and development and low-cost
manufacturing to innovate for a market that's grown large enough and
sophisticated enough to make it worthwhile. Instead of using
traditional supply chains, many companies are distributing through rural
self-help groups and micro-lenders that are already plugged into
villages. And while profit margins are slim, companies are counting on
volume to compensate. Many hope to sell to other poor and underserved
markets in Asia and Africa eventually. Trickle-up innovation.
trickle-up  underserved  reverse_innovation  emerging_markets  socioeconomic  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  jugaad  developed_countries  supply_chains  manufacturers  R&D  microlending  microfinance  low-cost  Indians  low-income 
november 2009 by jerryking
How to Help a Company’s Marketing and R&D Departments Get Along - WSJ.com
June 22, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by  PHILIP KOTLER, ROBERT
C. WOLCOTT And SUJ CHANDRASEKHAR. How to improve the relationship
between the marketing and R&D departments—and increase the chance of
coming up with successful new products
R&D  marketing 
june 2009 by jerryking
Why GM survives but Nortel doesn't
Tuesday, June 23, 2009| Globe & Mail | DEREK DECLOET
Nortel  restructurings  R&D  GM 
june 2009 by jerryking
Risky business
Apr 24, 2006 | Federal Computer Week. Falls Church: Vol. 20, Iss. 12; pg. 18, 4 pgs | by Aliya Sternstein.
In-Q-Tel  venture_capital  R&D  CIA 
june 2009 by jerryking
The End of Medical Miracles? - WSJ.com
JUNE 1, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By TEVI TROY. Scientific discoveries are neither inevitable nor predictable.
life_sciences  risks  discoveries  R&D  research 
june 2009 by jerryking

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