6th World Open Innovation Conference to focus on societal and business challenges

World Open Innnovation Conference 2019 logoHow societal challenges can provide organizations with unexpected growth opportunities will be the theme as innovation leaders gather for the sixth annual World Open Innovation Conference in Rome Dec. 12-13.

Organized by the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, the conference, with an expected attendance of more than 200, will for the first time be held at Rome’s Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, or LUISS for short. With the theme “Opening Up for Managing Business and Societal Challenges,” the event will include presentations on topics ranging from conceptualizing an open innovation ecosystem to implementing new ideas.

“Useful knowledge has spread so far so fast that no single organization can or should try to do everything on its own,” says Adj. Prof. Henry Chesbrough, conference chair and author of the new book Open Innovation Results: Going Beyond the Hype and Getting Down to Business (available Nov. 28). “The pace of growth in ideas is accelerating, making it even more imperative to open up to participate effectively in these flows of knowledge,” he says.

Francesco Starace, chief executive of Italian energy company Enel Group, will discuss developments in green and renewable energy as the keynote speaker. Other speakers include University of Toronto Professor Anita McGahan and University of Surrey Professor Annabelle Gawer, as well as other leaders in the energy and technology industries.

Conference activities include presentations of 60 papers, 15 posters, and five industry challenges, in which companies test open innovation’s impacts on real-world problems. A panel of a group of energy firms will discuss the companies’ combined activities and resources to invest in energy-related startup firms.

Chesbrough in the early 2000’s coined the term “open innovation,” which centers on the idea that organizations should open themselves to knowledge flows. Companies that pursue open innovation don’t rely on only their own internal expertise, but buy or license technology and business processes from others. This approach speeds up product cycles, spreads risks and rewards with others, and increases product differentiation, Chesbrough says. At the same time, companies that license or sell inventions that they’re not using can generate additional revenue, spread out fixed costs, and validate ideas and technologies that could have been overlooked, he adds.

Chesbrough’s early research concentrated on the technology sector’s pursuit of open innovation. Since then, other industries, including the automotive, chemical, consumer products, and financial services industries have followed. Similarly, some governments and nonprofits have also benefited from open innovation, finding ideas from collaborative partnerships and crowdsourcing to benefit health-care systems and city planning.

“No one organization has a monopoly on great ideas,” says Chesbrough.

In his new book, Chesbrough examines some of the challenges companies face in seeking innovation from others, including cultural resistance to pursuing ideas invented elsewhere and ingrained businesses practices that discourage collaboration. The book also links innovation at companies to national economic growth. All conference attendees will receive a copy of the book.

New conference explores the impact of artificial intelligence on business

Berkeley MBA students organized the new AI conference with UC Berkeley computer science and engineering students.

Artificial Intelligence experts debated the promise of smart machines as well as their potential to wreak havoc on the economy at last week’s pioneering Berkeley conference on AI and business.

The “AI: Shape the Future” event, organized by students from Haas and Machine Learning at Berkeley and held April 13 at Pauley ballroom, drew a crowd of more than 250 people. Haas Prof. Laura Tyson, who has written extensively about the impact artificial intelligence will have on jobs and the economy, joined AI experts and UC Berkeley Professors Michael Jordan and Andrew Critch as speakers. AI experts from Amazon, General Electric, and Google, along with Berkeley Haas Dean Rich Lyons and Information School Dean AnnaLee Saxenian, also spoke.

Uncertainty around the future of work

The discussions revealed a divide around how computer systems capable of intelligent behavior—such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation—will impact the job market and the future of our world.

<em>Prof. Laura Tyson</em>
Prof. Laura Tyson

Tyson, the faculty director of the Institute for Business & Social Impact at Berkeley Haas and former chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers, said she doesn’t worry that AI will cause mass unemployment. But she is concerned about the future of the job market overall and the quality of jobs that will be created due to new technology.

“The question is, as more and more intelligent machines can do better than humans at more and more jobs, what happens to societies that depend on income generation?” Tyson said.

Automation has already replaced many routine jobs, she says, particularly middle-income jobs, such as those in manufacturing, and lower-end tech jobs, such as data processing and basic coding.

In the future, she adds, the new jobs created by AI won’t necessarily be located in the places that are losing jobs to automation.

“The evidence shows concern about the quality of jobs that we will have left,” she said.

The conference was organized by three Haas students: AJ Christensen, MBA 19, Brian Polidori, MBA 19, and Daan Kakebeeke, MBA 18, who met through their interest in data science. The Haas students worked with Franklin Rice, BS 18, (electrical engineering & computer science), who is a member of the student group Machine Learning, and got additional support from the UC Berkeley School of Information as they set out to create a new conference that would bring business and engineering students together to explore AI through a new lens.

“You have engineers on one side who understand the machinery, and then you have business students who understand the world in which machine learning is being deployed, but don’t understand the machinery at all,” Christensen said.

“We’re bringing together diverse perspectives on AI from multiple corners of UC Berkeley and Silicon Valley to bridge this gap, break past the clichés and technical details, and help all students to start thinking about AI in a more comprehensive, nuanced, and thoughtful way,” Kakebeeke said.

AI technology is immature

The sessions focused on three areas: opportunity recognition in AI, the impact of AI on the economy, and new laws and policy.

Gert Lanckriet, head of machine learning at Amazon Music and professor at University of California, San Diego, said the growth of AI is fueled by the exponential increase in data that’s zipping across the internet.

“The more data, the better AI can be,” he said.

But Michael Jordan, director of the UC Berkeley AMPLab and an AI pioneer, argued that technology such as speech recognition and computer “vision” is still immature, lacking the understanding and creativity that humans are capable of. He warned that machine learning can sometimes do more harm than good.

“What we have as AI is not as far along as people think,” Jordan said. As proof, Jordan shared a story about how an AI-enabled machine misdiagnosed him with calcium buildup based on data compiled from other patients. The doctors used that data to recommend a dangerous operation. “Based on that (recommendation) I could have died,” he said. “Around the world that same day people got that same diagnosis, that same false positive,” and they may have had the risky operation, he said.

Critch, who co-founded the Center for Human-Compatible AI, warned that smart machines have the potential to wreak havoc, and asked how we will prepare as a society. “I see it as my job to prepare for the eventual arrival of AI that is generally smarter than humans or sufficiently smart to pose an existential threat in some manner,” said Critch.

Africa Business Forum 2018 to explore next generation of innovation

Before last year’s Berkeley Haas Africa Business Forum, Ekene Anene, MBA 18, landed a coveted summer internship at fintech startup Branch.co in Lagos, Nigeria. At the conference, she met the company’s CEO, who spoke on a fintech panel.

“It’s a good place to come if you are looking to network or work at a company in Africa,” said Anene, who with Annie Porter, MBA 18, is co-chairing the 4th Annual Berkeley Haas Africa Business Forum: The Future of Africa: Exploring the Next Generation of African Innovation.

The event will be held April 7 from 8:45 am to 6 pm in Chou Hall on the Haas School of Business campus.

A diverse lineup of speakers from North, East, and West Africa will sit on panels that focus on opportunities, challenges, and emerging trends across technology, health care, and education in Africa.

This year’s keynote speaker, Samuel Alemayehu, is co-founder and managing director of Cambridge Industries, a firm that’s building Africa’s biggest wind farm and first waste-to-energy facility.

Students founded the forum four years ago, with the goal of gathering visionaries to share innovative business solutions to Africa’s biggest challenges. Today, the forum’s organizing team includes about 20 undergraduate and graduate students who represent Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Morocco, Ivory Coast, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and the U.S.

“It’s a great mix of people who all share this passion for Africa and its future,” said co-chair Annie Porter, MBA 18, who grew up in Durban, South Africa, and moved to Berkeley to attend Haas. She said the group also includes three Haas undergraduates who wanted to get more involved with the Africa conference.

Panels during the day-long event include:

  • “The Future of Tech,” which will leverage the Haas Bay Area location, exploring how emerging technologies, including blockchain, artificial intelligence, mobile and big data, are impacting Africa. Chukwuemeka Afigbo, who drives Facebook’s global developer programs strategy, and Abdesalam Alaoui, director and co-founder of Hightech Payment Solutions, in Morocco, will speak on that panel.
  • “The Future of Health,” which will explore how mobile and digital services will help Africa overcome its infrastructure challenges. Speakers include Brittney Hume, head of international growth at Zipline, which operates drones that deliver medical products to health facilities in East African areas with challenging roads, and Gregory Rockson, co-founder and CEO of mPharma, a drug benefits manager working to improve access and affordability of high quality drugs across the continent. MPharma was named Fast Company’s most Innovative Company in Africa in 2018.

Africa has the world’s largest youth population. In 20 years, the number of sub-Saharan Africans reaching working age of 15 to 64 will exceed that of the rest of the world combined. By 2050, half of the world’s youth will be African.

Reflecting on those numbers, a “Future of Education” panel will explore what this shift means, with an emphasis on how Africa will educate its youth and create new job opportunities.

Speakers include:

  • Vivian Wu, managing partner at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which has led $34 million in venture capital investment in African education startups.
  • David Njonjo, vice president of finance and operations at Eneza Education, a Kenya-based educational technology startup.

There will be far more to experience at the conference beyond the panels, says Anene.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind Berkeley experience,” she said—including authentic African food, a live dance performance from the Nigerian Student Association and Senegalese drummers, an open bar wine reception from a boutique Napa Valley vineyard, and a student-facilitated design-thinking workshop with Djagora University, an African startup university.

Read Anene’s op-ed about the event in the Daily Cal.

Leading thinkers to gather for 4th Annual World Open Innovation Conference

Henry Chesbrough founded the WOIC Conference Since Adj. Prof. Henry Chesbrough wrote his pioneering 2003 book, Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, the concept has become a mainstay of corporate strategists and product developers around the world.

Next month, leading thinkers will gather in San Francisco to discuss the latest trends—including the rise of machine learning and the development of new business models to enhance collaborative strategies—at the  4th Annual World Open Innovation Conference.

Open innovation calls for companies to make much greater use of external ideas and technologies in their own business and, in turn, give outsiders to their unused internal ideas.

Keynote speakers at the conference include:

  • David J. Teece, director of the Tusher Center for the Management of Intellectual Capital at Berkeley Haas
  • Arati Prabhakar, former director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • William Ruh, SVP & chief digital officer for GE, and CEO of GE Digital
  • Thomas Kalil, former deputy director of policy, The White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

Chesbrough, faculty director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation, will chair the event, to be held Dec. 13-15 at the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront.

We asked Chesbrough a few questions in preparation for the conference.

Who should attend?

Anybody who is interested in growth should attend. You’ll see new models of growth that leverage more knowledge from external resources, making innovation faster and more efficient. We expect managers from Europe, Japan, China, and India, and of course, many American companies.

Who will be speaking at the conference?

The mix of speakers is not what you’d typically see at most conferences. The chief digital officer of GE will discuss the digital transformation of his company, and keynote speakers who headed DARPA and held a leading position in the White House Office of Technology and Science will explain how the principles of open innovation can be shared with governments and public entities. David Teece, director of UC Berkeley’s Tusher Center for the Management of Intellectual Capital, will tie these themes together and explain why competitive advantage in the 21st century will be based on the ability to mobilize external resources.

What will this year’s conference cover?

We’ll focus on lessons learned by state, local, and national governments that have used open innovation to inform and strengthen the policy-making process. Traditionally the policy world talks to itself, or uses consultants to push ideas out to the world. But the world can participate directly in the formation of the policies and give feedback on execution. We will also see the latest academic research on open innovation, and experience challenges from leading companies who are trying to make it work in practice.

Can you provide a memorable insight from an earlier conference?

There’s one particular story from NASA. With budgets shrinking and a trip to Mars on the drawing board, NASA was turning to open innovation to solve the immense problems of interplanetary travel. The agency even crowdsourced the design for a new space suit. But, as attendees at the World Open Innovation Conference in 2014 learned, the new approach to innovation unsettled long-time employees of the space agency. Scientists at NASA went through an identity crisis. They asked, “When we go outside to ask citizens for their input what happens to me?” That’s just one example of a challenge in adapting to open innovation.

What are some trends that you are watching in open innovation?

Open innovation is moving into the realm of artificial intelligence. Machine learning and deep learning involve training machines with sets of data, and the more data you have the better the training. Open innovation holds that it is quite possible to aggregate disparate data sources from multiple, collaborating organizations.

Sharing data and sharing services creates value and new sources of revenue. But opening a business to outside partners requires the development of new business models. Firms need to find ways to manage the move to the new digital technologies that are reshaping the economy.

Why does open innovation matter as much today as it did when you developed the paradigm?

There is so much useful knowledge in so many places that it is a mistake to generate and protect your own knowledge to the exclusion of outside sources. It is much smarter to take advantage of that external knowledge and then add the pieces of internal knowledge that brings it to life and connects it together to deliver business value.

Tech can play key role in protecting free speech: UN High Commissioner & Microsoft President

UN/Microsoft free speech event at UC Berkeley

With freedom of expression being challenged around the world—and in clashes on the UC Berkeley campus—is there more that the technology industry can do to protect free speech and other human rights?

The answer to that question was a resounding “yes,” as the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and Microsoft President Brad Smith spoke last Thursday at a Berkeley-Haas Dean’s Speaker Series. The panel was co-sponsored by the Berkeley-Haas Center for Responsible Business’ Peterson Speaker Series, as well as the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law.

The panelists agreed that technology allows for better tracking of abuses around the world, while also enabling better communication with political dissenters—and that technology companies themselves have an important role to play.

Microsoft Brad Smith
Microsoft President Brad Smith

Smith reiterated Microsoft’s pledge to help the Human Rights Commission strengthen its work by embarking on a five-year, $5 million partnership. “We are a company that believes that a better-funded, more diversely financed UN Human Rights Commission will do more to protect people—not just their right to speak but even their ability to stay alive,” he said.

More diverse funding, Smith said, would serve to insulate the UN commission from threats by governments to reduce their contributions when the UN’s contribution is contrary to their own. “Governments want the High Commissioner to be vocal when he is poking other governments, but are less enthusiastic when he is poking them,” said Smith, in an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the UN.

Free speech threat on rise

Haas Dean Rich Lyons framed the discussion—which was moderated by Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Lawby noting that some 75 percent of governments around the world restrict freedom of expression, according to Amnesty International. Threats to a free press are also on the rise, he said.

“You may be tempted to think this is a ‘them-not-us’ situation, but the US ranks number 43 on the World Press Freedom Index, ranking just below the West African country Burkina Faso,” he said. The US had a higher ranking last year and “statements such as labeling the press as counter to American interests will probably weaken our standing further.”

Although Americans overwhelmingly support the right to free speech, that doesn’t translate into support for hate speech, he said. “Recent events at Charlottesville have brought hate speech to the forefront of our nation’s conscience and reignited calls for censorship.”

UN High Commissioner Zeid
UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

Balancing two conflicting priorities “requires fine-tuned thinking,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the sixth UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the first Muslim to hold the position. “With internet freedom on the decline we must wage a bare-knuckles fight for rights.  We have to become human-rights brawlers.”

“We need transparency”

The high commissioner said Microsoft’s technology has improved the commission’s ability to communicate with dissenters it could not normally reach, and to sift through data on alleged ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. It now has the ability to analyze video images for evidence and is developing a dashboard to give commission staffers a real-time snapshot of human rights around the world.

While calling on technology companies to do more to further human rights, the high commissioner warned that companies like Facebook may not be adhering to standards developed by the UN.

“We need transparency. We need to know what criteria they are using.  If they are going to police these issues, they have to police and judge according to international standards,” he said.

Indeed, Facebook has been criticized for Russia’s use of the social media platform to buy political ads and use fake accounts to target users with messages designed to inflame religious and racial tensions. The company recently agreed to turn over to Congressional investigators more than 3,000 ads paid for by entities linked to Russia.

Universities, too, have a role in protecting free speech. But education is only part of the answer, the high commissioner said.  Noting that many of the top Nazi Party members were highly educated, the high commissioner stressed that what the world needs most is educated people with empathy and compassion.

He referenced Charlie Chaplin’s character in The Great Dictator, who said: “More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”

Watch the full video:

 

Top photo (L-R) Alexa Koenig, executive director of the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Microsoft President Brad Smith. All photos: Manali Sibthorpe

 

Press >PLAY: The Massive Student-Run Digital Media Conference is Back

A participant at >Play 2014 checks out virtual reality with the Oculus Rift

This year’s >Play digital media and tech conference will offer a chance to do just that: in addition to absorbing the latest from top industry leaders, pitching startup ideas, and hobnobbing with recruiters, attendees can check out cutting-edge gadgets and immerse themselves in the Bay Area tech scene.

The 11th annual conference, to be held at San Francisco’s Pier 27 Events Center on Oct. 30, is expected to draw a sell-out crowd of 1,000—including tech hungry students from schools around the country and Bay Area professionals. Organized by MBAs from Haas’ Digital Media and Entertainment Club (DMEC), >Play is the largest student-run tech and digital media conference in the country.

Conference co-chairs Andrew Hill, Jamaur Bronner and Michael Young, all MBA 16, have been working since March to put the event together. Their goal, Hill says, is to make >Play “a digital media event that happens to be run by business students, rather than a business event that happens to be about digital media.”

Organizers have focused on three elements: making the conference integrated, interdisciplinary, and immersive. “For the integration piece, this year we reached out to 25 business schools around the country. On the interdisciplinary side, >Play is open to students across multiple programs, including information, design, and engineering,” he says. “On the immersion side, there will be opportunities for students to get involved throughout the day, rather than just attending lectures.”

Diversity and inclusiveness were also cornerstones of the planning process, organizers say. >Play 2015 boasts record numbers of underrepresented minority and female speakers from across the tech landcape. A Diversity in Tech Design Thinking workshop features leaders from Facebook.

Events actually begin the day before the conference, with the “Hack All Night, >Play All Day” hackathon on Oct. 29. Hackers from UC Berkeley, the Bay Area and other schools will compete to present a prototype and product pitch to a panel of Silicon Valley executives and venture capitalists. The winners will present at the conference the next day, for the chance to win $3,500.

A unique Entertainment X Tech panel features musicians, VCs, and digital strategists who are bridging the gap between the entertainment world and the tech industry. The panel features Grammy-nominated R&B producer Ryan Leslie. >PLAY participants will also get the scoop on more than 40 startups.

Speakers include keynote presenter John Oberon of Cisco, as well as Signe Brewster of Gigaom, Makezine, and Wired; Nelson Kunkel of Deloitte Digital; Chris Nyffeler of IDEO; Emily Peters of Uncommon Bold; and Michael Seibel of Y Combinator leading a Pitch 101 workshop—just to name a few.

At the end of the day, attendees can bust a few moves at a massive Halloween after-party at the Armory on Mission Street—a “Deadly Disco” co-sponsored by Tilt and hosted by Crossroads Nightlife.

Tickets are available for the conference alone, or bundled with after-party. Check out more details on the conference and buy tickets here.

—Kate Madden Yee

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