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But I'm No Billionaire

Thu, 02/26/2009 - 7:06am
David Mantey, Editor, PD&D

New school questions whether technology 'improves mankind’s plight instead of harming it.' Oh, and it promises to breed the next generation of multibillion-dollar companies.

David Mantey, Editor, PD&D

Anticipating innovation's unforeseeable consequences? Now that’s a multibillion-dollar question.

"Anticipating innovation's unforeseeable consequences? Now that’s a multibillion-dollar question."
 
Someone finally opened a school to breed the next crop of multibillion-dollar companies. Whew, for a moment there I thought that the weight was all going to fall on myself and my fellow state school graduates.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but faith for my University of Wisconsin – La Crosse alumni; the chancellor just never sent a graduating class into the world by beginning a keynote speech with: “I expect the next generation of multibillion-dollar companies to come out this university."

The speech was more focused on a new crop of physical education teachers and coaches, as well as the other “bright minds entering the professional world today.”

Before I’m stripped of my bachelor’s, I’ll move onto technology that is changing the world at such a seemingly uncontrollable rate, that few people understand or even question its implications.

Founders of the new Silicon Valley-based Singularity University are looking into the very serious question: How can we ensure technology 'improves mankind’s plight instead of harming it?'

While some of the school’s requirements and expectations seem elitist ($25,000 tuition for a nine-to-ten-week program, a 30-student class cap, the facilities on NASA’s Silicon Valley campus, the expectation that this school will produce several multibillion-dollar companies), the ideals couldn’t be more appropriate.

The class is broken down into three-week segments in which the students will go from a broad knowledge of computing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, energy, law and finance, and drill down into areas of expertise that will culminate with a final project.

The nine-week course sounds incredibly challenging, but with only 30 spots available, those charged with doling out acceptance letters should be able to cherry-pick from the great minds with sufficient financial support. 

Innovation is successful because of people who are driven by whether or not they could do something. I find it refreshing to hear that this university may be questioning whether or not we should. And, if we do create some life-altering technology, let’s not limit the advances to improve the quality of life for a few people when many more could be positively impacted.    

Money is tight right now, and the funds that were once invested into research and development with grandiose implications have been cut back. It is not the time to hinder your companies by making small strides to save a dollar here and there.

I recently had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Eberhard Veit speak on the topic of innovation. The chairman of the board of directors at Festo AG said, “Innovating is much more important during crisis and downturn than upturn.”

He also emphasized the importance of continued education, because when everyone is holding their hands a little closer to their chests, the only differentiation in resources is people.

Use the human factor to your benefit and keep shooting for the billion-dollar ideas.

Innovation it too often limited to vertical markets. A company can say that the sky is the limit, but how beautiful is the skyline with one tower soaring beyond the clouds amongst a city of bi-levels? Some marketers’ greatest challenges stem from a misunderstanding of a technology’s total breadth, and the inability to recognize the additional industries and markets that would benefit from it.  

Anticipating innovation's unforeseeable consequences? Now that’s a multibillion-dollar question. I’ll take a check, but I’ll need to verify funds first. 

Send comments to David.Mantey@advantagemedia.com

Click here to read IMPO Editor Anna Wells's take on innovation

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