Announcing the The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

It's great to announce that our Center for Entrepreneurship, started over five years ago with a shoestring and a great set of network partners, today becomes the The Child Family Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.  Given the difficult economic times of public universities, this endowment and institutionalization (literally) means the center-now-institute will be around and able to continue helping students and researchers make a broader difference in this world.

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What our leaders tell us about our selves

Steve Jobs died. The outpouring of sorrow and admiration is nothing short of stunning, and more than most heads of state would engender. Jobs deserves credit for so much that Apple (and Pixar) have wrought, and a tribute to his purely technological contributions would be plenty.  But there is something intensely personal—something that speaks to us more than the phones, or laptops, or iPads—that in passing shakes us to the core and asks what we want of our leaders and of ourselves.

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Entrepreneurs and Society: Kauffman Foundation’s “3 Things” video

The Kauffman Foundation just posted a nice sketchbook talk by CEO Carl Schramm (embedded below), summarizing the good and vital research the company has supported that looks at the role of entrepreneurs in society.  These numbers should guide both policy and personal decisions.  

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Misguided Policy: Following venture capital into clean technology

The Solyndra debacle raises significant questions about how to best pursue a clean tech revolution. As I argued before, most of these questions will go ignored in the scramble for political advantage but several others are raising the same questions (E.G., Real Solyndra Scandal).  A good post by Bruce Krasting actually brings testimony from an engineer with Solyndra that makes the company look very much like any other venture-capital backed business—consuming cash as fast as possible to grow as quickly as possible to meet a rapidly closing window of opportunity.

In particular, the Department of Energy’s recent loan guarantee program, through which Solyndra received its loan guarantees. has backstopped roughly $2 billion to venture-capital backed clean tech startups with the honorable motive of fostering a clean tech revolution. In a search for means to foster a clean tech revolution, the Obama Administration made venture capital a cornerstone of its energy policy. Yet, despite venture capital’s leading role in clean technology this past decade, we don’t really know when it works well and, as importantly, when it doesn’t.

Last spring, my colleague Martin Kenney and I completed a research paper that looked at the boundary conditions underlying venture capital’s success and its appropriateness in pursuing a clean tech revolution: “Misguided Policy: Following Venture Capital into Clean Technology.”  The paper looked directly at the funding of Solyndra, Tesla, and other new ventures. It is forthcoming in California Management Review but, given the circumstance, wanted to introduce it here.

Download Hargadon Kenney 2011 CMR Misguided Policy Following Venture Capital 110726

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What lessons from Solyndra?

In the great rush to politicize the bankruptcy of Solyndra, potentially valuable lessons are being ignored. I’ve argued before (investing the wrong way, VCs and Green Tech, and More VCs in Green Tech) about the folly of public investing in Solyndra and similar new ventures, but now fear the scramble of politics will wash away valuable lessons in pursuing innovations in clean technology.

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Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison

Last week, Bob Sutton asked me to add my two bits to the dog-pile surrounding the “Steve-Jobs-is-the-modern-Thomas-Edison” analogy. I initially balked. There were plenty of folks who’d already made this connection. Then I balked because Bob’s own brilliant post on Apple took the discussion in a much more productive direction.  Over the weekend, however, I bit. Not because of how the analogy fit, but because of how it didn’t.

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2011 UC Entrepreneurship Academy

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September 12-16, 2011 at UC Davis
out of the lab and into the world

A one-week business development academy designed for science and engineering senior undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers and faculty who want to explore moving their research out of the lab and into the world. 

Learn to:

  • analyze, enhance and communicate the broader potential impact of your research
  • build a business skill set for a career in industry
  • evaluate market and technology opportunities
  • network with industry and investment experts
  • Find out more on the Web site >>

The academy includes:

  • a five day intensive on exploring the market opportunities surrounding your ideas and your research
  • daily seminars and interactive sessions taught by leading venture capitalists, angel investors, and entrepreneurs
  • the tools to communicate the broader potential of your research
  • a networking dinner with industry sponsors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and angel investors,
  • evening mentoring sessions with industry executives and investors

Apply online by August 22nd >>
Open to science and engineering researchers from any university. $150 for students from California universities. $500 for out of state students.




Problem-finding, by Tom Kelley of IDEO

Albert Szent-Gyorgi, who won the Nobel Prize in 1937 for discovering vitamin C, once said “Discovery consists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what no one else has thought.” 

When it comes to innovation, or its cousins invention and discovery, we tend to think of it as a process of discovering solutions.  In fact, it is more often a process of discovering the right problems. Tom Kelley, of IDEO, talks so eloquently here about the value of finding the right problem in talking about how IDEO's designers were able to discover a new problem in what was essentially an old and mature market, kid's toothbrushes.  

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