Category Archives: Innovations

What’s wrong with this picture, I mean Patent?

A recent Tech Crunch article, The Terrible Costs of Patents, created some conflict for me. The jest of the article references the high cost of patenting technology products. Companies like Google and Apple, and start-ups alike, spend exorbitant amount of money to use as or to protect from the weapon “against the rising tide of patent litigation”. But when you realize that technology products, or anything you can think of, comes from the ideas of others. (Read Where Good Ideas Come From, by Stephen Johnson, to help you see the picture.)

From the TechCrunch article:

Patents were originally conceived to protect inventors—people and companies who contribute to the advancement of society by creating new products. But in the past decade, something went horribly wrong. Patents have increasingly became nothing more than financial and legal weapons, to be amassed in portfolios by “non-practicing entities” (i.e. patent trolls) and used to extort protection money from economically productive companies.

And of course, patent trolls have a 55.6 percent success rate in cases in the Eastern District of Texas. Is this the way Texas has become an entrepreneurial state?

What do you think?

San Antonio, an entrepreneurial hub

The Wall Street Journal published a recent article on entrepreneurial hubs across the United States entitled Where the Action Is. Just as one born into a certain family has more opportunities than someone less fortunate, in the world of business, there are certain benefits to starting a business in a certain area of the country. Though we can’t change who we were born to, we can change where we start and grow a business. And this article is keen on identifying the various hubs around the country. San Antonio made that list as a hub for cyber security.

The benefit of a hub as the author indicated: Entrepreneurs are moving there and flourishing in the teeth of a bleak economy. The cities, in turn, are nurturing the entrepreneurs by giving them access to funding, mentors and facilities.
One particular entrepreneur identified in this article, who moved his company from Phoenix to San Antonio said:

“I’d attribute a lot of our success to the location,” he says. “I think the availability of cybersecurity talent and the low-cost of doing business here has helped us. And because there are so many different cybersecurity companies, we have improved each other’s business through partnerships.”

The more small businesses develop and flourish, the more they attract more entrepreneurs and more available financial support. What we are still missing is what is available in places like Boston or the Silicon Valley: people tripping over each other to mentor, advise, and otherwise support new start-ups.

UTSA Business Students partner with Canary Island Engineers

A few business students from UTSA spent 3 weeks in Spain’s Canary Islands playing on the beach, sleeping late, and basically doing nothing.

Daniel, David, Randy, Tony, Kim, Rochelle, Tyler, Taylor, Ivan, Matt, Liliana, and Rebecca went to the Canary Islands (which is located 70 miles north of Morocco), and for one long week of writing and working with engineering students from the Islands, competed in a Business Plan Competition. 6 teams, each comprising 2 business students and 1 engineer, met for the first time 6 days before the competition. They wrote the business plans, in both English and Spanish, presented in both English and Spanish to a committee of international judges. If that wasn’t one big fright, ask any one of them.

Not only were they phenomenally successful, 4 of the Spanish engineers who participated in the competition are coming to San Antonio in early September to seek out more advice and assistance with their business ideas. (Check out the San Antonio Business Journal article.)

And the winners are…..

….absolutely everyone who presented at the CITE $100K Student New Technology Venture Start-Up Competition held on Saturday April 23 at the downtown campus of UTSA.

Nine teams competed and the top three teams carried place awards:

umd industries placed 1st
The EGLD or electrolytic gastric leak detector detects leaks in gastric bypass surgery. Student team includes Taylor Bobb, Daniel Escaloni, Justin Hoffman, Michael Horwath, Absalon Lyra, Jennifer Schmidt and Karin Thornsburg.

Atalis placed 2nd
ATALIS offers a RFID-based technology that identifies and weighs bottles stocked by business and bar owners in real-time to determine if the correct amount and type of alcohol is used for a particular drink and to determine if the charge is correct. Student team includes Zachery Chaney, Mark Foresman, Clayton King, Ryan Mertz, Laura Phinney, Mark Ramsower and Wesley Richard.

VOIDD placed 3rd
Voice Detection for the Deaf offers a mobile technology to assist in the awareness of surroundings of the deaf and hard of hearing by integrating an alerting wristband with a mobile phone application. Student team includes Domingos Francisco, Marlena Gonzales, Joaquim Dos Santos Jaime, Kelley Poindexter, Roberto Sierra and Ahmad Turki.

Congratulations to all the entrepreneurs!

Check out the list of all the competitors.

This Boot Camp Will Move You Ahead

Saturday, January 29, 2011
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The University of Texas at San Antonio
Main Campus
Business Building
University Room 2.06.04

The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE) will host the Jackson Walker Technology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp. This is the preeminent event for kick starting your technology career, either as an entrepreneur on your own or an entrepreneur for a company.

The daylong boot camp will feature expert presentations on fundamental technology entrepreneurship skills including opportunity identification, business planning, IP and business law, marketing, and funding a technology start-up in San Antonio.

The keynote address will be given by Vin Montes, ’04, founder and CEO of NERD Beverage, the focus and memory drink. Montes will share his story of how he has created a multi-million dollar enterprise from invention to production, marketing, sales and growth.

Montes created the original scientific formula for NERD Beverage as a pre-med student at UTSA. Through his initial capital raise, beverage formulation development and company founding, Montes has increased the market share of NERD Beverage and continues to open in new markets throughout the country.

The Entrepreneurship Boot Camp is co-sponsored by the UTSA Colleges of Business and Engineering, Startech and the Office of the UTSA Vice President for Research.

Registration is free for UTSA faculty, students and staff as well as faculty and students from other institutions. The boot camp is $95 for the general public. Payment can be made by cash or check the day of the event. For more information, call (210) 458-5782.

Creation Station

That’s all I can say with this effort to show all of us, even those who say “I’m not creative!”
Oh, but you are. With the right frame of mind, we all are.

Check out this video.

AOL - "Creation Station" from Resonance Interactive on Vimeo.

More than an entrepreneurial venture

Better Place is more than an entrepreneurial venture. Do you choose a comfortable live and career, or do you choose to help save your country and the world by doing something meaningful?

So was Shai Agassi’s, CEO of Better Place, response on Charlie Rose the other night when asked why he gave us his Silicon Valley successful life to move back to Israel and run an electric car company. He’s building the national infrastructure for electric cars in Israel, Japan and California. Looks as though he’s succeeding while developing an inexpensive electric car.

Go to Charlie Rose and click on Shai Agassi’s picture, from December 1st program.

TEDx Promotes the Literacy of Speech

TED was started by Chris Anderson a number of years ago by promoting “ideas worth spreading” through its annual TED Conference with talks from global leaders. The 18-minute talks are then posted on for free viewing. TEDx is a year-old offshoot, offering individuals and groups a way to host local events around the world — which are now occurring daily. Trinity University in San Antonio just hosted a local TEDx.

TEDx represents radical openness and passion from each speaker. What started as highly visible speakers making powerful speeches, like Gates, has revolutionized the art of the spoken word. SmartPlanet published an interview with the founder Anderson, who spoke on changing the world, one video at a time. He says:

I think anyone who has read great books or watched a half-dozen TED talks will say, “My goodness, my world just shifted,” and understand the impact of great ideas. If you don’t get the power of ideas, you will think TED is a very strange thing.

Anderson believes that “there’s a whole new literacy that’s being developed” in these videos. “Reading and writing is how we teach our kids to communicate with the rest of the world, because that’s been the only game in town. Now, the literacy of speech is going to be more important.”

My take away from this interview:

There’s 1,000 talks now. I love the talks that give a different lens on the world and especially those that give a different lens on your own mind. It’s a shock to discover just how buggy and flawed our minds are.

Check out Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation

Serendipitity while reading “Where good ideas come from”

The book Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation led me to music I had never heard before, a study on entrepreneurs from Stanford University, and another way of using Facebook. And that was just the beginning.

I’ll start with ideas.  Where do good ideas come from?  According to the author, they don’t materialize in a vacuum. Good ideas, he says, come from the social or informational interactions in diverse and unique settings.  He identifies seven “patterns” in which new ideas are formed and backs them up with examples. I haven’t finished, but the take aways so far are leading me on a new journey:

1. You don’t reach Serendip by plotting a course for it.  You have to set out in good faith for elsewhere and lose your bearings serendipitously. (A quote by J. Barth, a postmodernist writer)

2.Music. The author shares an example of how diversity in thinking led musicians Eno and Bryne to produce My Life in the Bush of Ghosts:

“Rather than featuring conventional pop or rock singing, most of the vocals are sampled from other sources, such as commercial recordings of Arabic singers, radio disc jockeys, and an exorcist. Musicians had previously used similar sampling techniques, but never before been used “to such cataclysmic effect” as on My Life.”

If you don’t buy the whole album on itunes, at least buy America is Waiting.

3. A study in the late 90s investigated the relationship between business innovation and diversity.  The results showed the most creative individuals consistently had broad social networks that extended outside their organization and involved people from diverse fields of expertise.

“Diverse, horizontal social netweorks were three times more innovative than uniform, vertical networks. Groups united by shared values and long-term familiarity, conformity and convention tended to dampen any potential creative sparks.”

4. Which leads me to Facebook, and any social networking site like LinkedIn. Not your friends, but acquaintances. Or people you hardly know because they are in another field or industry than yours.  As other studies have shown, building bridges outside your realm of existence, allows you access to new ideas that you can use in a new context. Looking at those “weak ties” of your social network allows information to travel back and forth throughout a network.  And it is not just the speed in which ideas and information travels across a network, it is the openness the information from one area triggers a connection that leads to a new breakthrough.

Obviously, I suggest your own journey of serendipity while reading this book.

Not the ipad and beer keg; it’s just a car

So while we in the U.S. are using our ipads to monitor our beer kegs, our colleagues in Germany are doing a little something more sophisticated.  Well, I mean ALOT more sophisticated, if you call using the ipad to run an autonomous taxi a sophisticated use of the ipad.

Thanks Mashable!