29 February 2008

KSG / HBS Social Enterprise Conference

This Sunday 2 March 2008 is IMAGINE, the joint KSG / HBS Social Enterprise Conference. I'm moderating the Technology * Innovation * Development panel with Amy Smith, Tim Prestero, Khalid Quadir, and Damien Balsan.

Mark Miles ~ MIT MEMS Entrepreneur / Inventor!

One of my absolute favorite people on the planet is Mark Miles, MIT Electrical Engineering alumnus, co-founder of Iridigm Displays, later bought by Qualcomm to create Qualcomm MEMS Technologies. His venture was glorious and alone worth mention, but our FUNKHAUS & South End BBQ parties are legendary!

Apple's Overly Edgy Industrial Design Bites

So I'm a new Air owner. No surprise given my previous lust. It's pretty great except where it really bites. Edges, especially unnecessarily sharp edges, really bite. Literally. While the smoothly curvaceous outer surface is enviable and glorious, the 90 degree knife-edges inside are both aesthetically ugly and physiologically harmful. For the love of god, please smooth and round ALL edges. This ought to be Design School 101, obvious to even amateurs.

(P.S. A shout out to MIT Sloan alumna and former MIT Innovation Club President Serena Cheng who -- veritable lore has it -- inspired the Apple Air-in-an-Envelope ad campaign as an Apple marketing maven!)

MIT's Regeneration Research Agenda ~ Vision?!

In an article entitled Colleges Teach 'Urban Development 101', the Wall Street Journal writes about Penn and other universities integrating campus & surrounding community design & development towards a larger regeneration agenda. Curiously, as I wrote in an Xconomy post entitled How Kendall Square Became Hip: MIT Pioneered University-Linked Business Parks, MIT was one of the first near-neighborhood regenerators, but we haven't leveraged these efforts in any coherent way beyond patchwork investments, nor has this been woven at MIT into a larger curriculum -- or, more importantly, a regeneration research agenda -- embracing economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and overall societal vitality. We need a bold vision for what MIT 2020 could and should be like and an integrative strategy towards accomplishing this.

Engineering Medical Devices ~ MIT Prototypes @ CIMIT

The CIMIT Forum next Tuesday 4 March 2008 features students from Dr Hong Ma's biomedical devices design class at MIT presenting their work from the last semester. The idea of this class is to bring together MIT students from Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering to work with clinicians from CIMIT-affiliated hospitals to develop new medical devices. This Engineering Medical Devices CIMIT session takes place from 4-6pm at MGH in Boston. One of the very cool example projects is SmartPad -- A Wireless, Stickerless EKG System...

Exponential Innovations ~ Multiple, Mutually-Reinforcing Curves

In the Metaverse Roadmap Overview, there is a great little chart which shows "Moore’s Law is just one of a large family of accelerating technology capacity and performance growth curves"... These trends are what is enabling a confluence of videogames, Web 2.0, virtual reality, and mobility.

Jock Brandis ~ CNN Hero for Full Belly Project

Very nice to see Jock Brandis, founder of the Full Belly Project, on CNN Heroes today.

27 February 2008

Krishna Rao of S3IDF.org on HighTechFever TV

I hosted Krishna Rao, COO and founding leader of the Bangalore office of S3IDF.org on my HighTechFever TV show tonight. Solar PV deployment pioneer Harish Hande introduced us, thus extending our global Developmental Entrepreneurship Network (DEN).

Solar Turbine Group ~ MIT Venture in Lesotho

In an article entitled Shedding a Bright Light on Village Needs, MIT Science Writer David Chandler writes about MIT student Matt Orosz & colleagues and their venture experience in Lesotho helping build up the Solar Turbine Group -- now known as STG -- a sun-thermal power technology solution born out of the D-Labs at MIT. This is one of the great teams which entered and won awards in both the IDEAS and MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Metropolitan Biogas ~ A Bostonian Urban Innovation

The Boston Globe had a nice story yesterday entitled Urban Decay, Redefined about the prospect for Boston-metro organic waste recycling and processing via anaerobic digestor into methane, a very compelling energy source.

The Search ~ Educational Comic / Graphic Novel

The New York Times today has a great story entitled No Laughs, No Thrills, and Villains All Too Real about Eric Heuvel's new graphic novel, The Search, the story of a Jew in World War II Holland escaping from the Nazis. Heuvel's previous comic book, A Family Secret, is one of my absolute favorite stories. It embraces moral choice, compelling characters, and real history all shared via the drawn-story medium of the graphic novel. Heuvel's style is a conscious homage to Herge, the Belgian giant among illustrators, creator of Tintin one of the prime inspirations of my own co-creation, Howtoons, cartoons which show kids how to build things.

Timothy Lu ~ Lemelson-MIT Student Inventor 2008

This morning I went to the announcement of the 2008 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize celebration where Timothy Lu was honored as the winner for his work in synthetic biology and engineering microphages. This year, for the first time, Executive Director Joshua Schuler and colleagues announced two top runner-up Finalists, Manu Prakash and Erez Lieberman. I'm a huge supporter of the invention and innovation mission of the Lemelson-MIT program and have been to every awards announcement and met all the MIT student winners since 1995.

26 February 2008

Howtoons DIY Ice Cream!

You don't have to have a MooBella ice cream machine to make the stuff or to live next to Toscanini's to eat the stuff! Follow our Howtoons DIY instructions...

Inventages & MooBella @ Cambridge Innovation Center

I just came back from a great little event hosted by swissnex Boston, the innovative Consulate of Switzerland at the Cambridge Innovation Center. After a welcome by Pascal Marmier and Christoph von Arb from the Consulate, the former Nestle CFO Wolfgang Reichenberger, now Senior Partner of Inventages, a $1.5B venture capital fund, spotlighted their investment approach and global portfolio in health, wellness, and life-science. Then Bruce Ginsberg shared the story of his business, MooBella (an Inventages investment) which is revolutionizing the ice-cream on-demand sector. Their vending machines air-up, flavor, and flash-freeze the room-temperature ingredients to custom-create and serve fresh scoops of ice cream.

Beautiful Day!

Bit of irony, for me.

Ultra Slo-Mo Karate Chop!

Paul from GeekPress found this one via Cynical-C. Ultra slow-motion of a hand karate chopping a concrete block...

Blown Apart!

Catastrophic wind turbine failure...

24 February 2008

Fred Hapgood's Great Events List...

Every week Fred Hapgood updates his list of Boston Science & Engineering Lectures. It's pretty impressive indeed! And I highly recommend it.

Glorious Music Machine ~ Jeff Lieberman & Dan Paluska Rock!

Builderati Jeff Lieberman & Dan Paluska have crafted a wonderful music machine, the Absolut Quartet... Also available at hi-quality-res. This is so great as a physical incarnation of one of my favorite anime music videos (which is completely computer animated)...

22 February 2008

Lots of Entrepreneurial Action at MIT!

This week has been creatively busy for me here at MIT, with lots of cool events, great connections with emerging entrepreneurs, and exciting developments in MIT's efforts to accelerate innovations everywhere. Just thought I'd mention a few highlights...

I met with several student entrepreneurs working on ventures in sectors as diverse as mining social signals, urban mobility systems, rural gas & power systems, a carbon offsets ecobusiness, labor market-making, running a social club, scaling-up agriproducts, health care diagnostic & delivery systems, and more. They are all both entering the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition by the deadline next week 28 February 2008 AND they are quite serious about actually building their ventures.

My MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge colleague Pearl Freier (who runs Cambridge BioPartners) swung by to discuss the exciting up-coming line-up of our Innovation Series, a monthly combination of stellar speaker and "live-case" startup company. Each month the Innovation Series spotlights a different technology-business cluster here in Boston-Metro/Massachusetts/New England. Sometimes this is a vintage, but thriving, cluster -- for instance, biotech or enterprise software, and other times we have and will continue to spotlight emerging technology sectors -- e.g. cleantech, neurotech, web-mobile, gaming, and more. All this is organized by an all-volunteer committee of entrepreneurs, investors, professional service providers, and other key members of our greater MIT Enterprise Forum community. Pearl, of course, chairs this committee and makes sure all the complicated pieces are interwoven and properly orchestrated.

I connected with venture capitalist Jim Matheson of Flagship Ventures earlier in the week to follow-up on his great Power, Drugs, and Money conference from last week. Energy, Biotech, and Financial Services are three entrepreneurial super-clusters here in New England and Jim's conference really drew many interesting themes together cutting across those sectors. (Jim chaired the volunteer organizing committee.) Anyways, really great VC's are most interested in the new and non-obvious stuff. So stay tuned for more events and even startup ventures touching on emerging themes such as green consumer goods, ocean & marine systems, urban innovations, healthcare robotics, and the like.

I was delighted to meet Andrei Trandafir, Virgil Chitu, and Marian Banica, the three winners of the Romanian ICUBE business plan competition who came to visit Boston earlier this week. This business trip was part of their prize-winnings, which I think is just fantastic. The whole program is run by Ioana Ceausu, who was also part of the trip. She had connected with Dean Kamen at last year's MIT Global Startup Workshop in Trondheim, and sure enough, the four Romanians went up to see him at DEKA yesterday in Manchester, NH. The ICUBE competition is modeled after the MIT $100K, which I had the great honor of running for two years as Lead Organizer. Anyways, the trip to Boston allows these winners to engage with people in our greater-MIT entrepreneurship ecosystem. But that doesn't happen automagically; indeed their visit was substantially orchestrated by one of MIT’s current MBA students, Ovidiu Bujorean, also a Romanian and ICUBE Board Member, and our Teaching Assistant last year in the Nuts & Bolts of Business Plans class I co-teach with Joe Hadzima and Yonald Chery.

Bryant Harrison, one of the key leaders of the MIT African Internet Technology Initiative (AITI) came by my office to discuss their plans to escalate their summer teaching programs to more regions of Africa this coming summer. AITI sends MIT students for 2-3 months to Africa to teach programming and entrepreneurship to both high school and college students. And since mobile phones are absolutely taking off throughout the continent, the content is increasingly becoming web+mobile. This is also a domain of tremendous entrepreneurial potential, as Africans both decide what problems are worth solving and have the tools and skills and ambition to solve them through inventive applications and startup businesses. AITI is dedicated to helping accelerate progress towards a vital and thriving Africa, as you can see in this great article entitled Infotech Program Aids African Students featuring Bryant and mentioning the essential support provided by MIT President Emeritus Paul Gray.

Many more things happened, but I'll finish by mentioning that Chuck Eesley & I hosted our MINDS @ the Muddy neuronight (with nearly two dozen participants over the evening, including Professor Ed Boyden, MIT alumna and current HBS student Ann DeWitt (who's running the Biotech Track for the MIT $100K), several visiting entrepreneurs, and a great mix of grad students, post-docs, and researchers.)

I also saw the new leadership of SEID, the Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development, and discussed some of the exciting projects they are in the middle of planning for this semester, the upcoming summer, and beyond.

18 February 2008

ClickDiagnostics ~ Update from Bangladesh!

Mridul Chowdhury, one the great KSG students in our Developmental Entrepreneurship seminar, reports back from his January trip to Bangladesh that the time is now, the need is high, and the solution is promising for his ClickDiagnostics venture. ClickDiagnostics uses a mobile phone with camera to image eye and skin ailments, wirelessly send the info to a qualified clinician in the city hospital, and thus enable lower-cost diagnosis. Mridul's made an informal video of his experiences... This is one of the great teams my colleagues and I helped support with an MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship-IDRC Seed Grant over IAP 2008.

Global Health Delivery Challenges ~ Spotlight Sierra Leone

The BBC has a spotlight story entitled Profile: Sierra Leone's Slum Medic in which Adama Gondor shares her experiences as a Community Health Officer in Kroo Bay, a neighborhood of Freetown, the country's capital. Save the Children, a UK charity has an interactive website on Kroo Bay which gives a sliver of a sense of what living there is like...

17 February 2008

Howtoons Marshmallow Shooter!

Our infamous Howtoons Marshmallow Shooter lives on... This fantastic kids project has inspired many to make their own variants. Even though it has earned the honor of being banned from elementary schools everywhere, cool Moms & Dads help their kids make the shooters all the time, for example, here's Steve D's son Joey D...

MINDS @ MIT ~ Neurogathering at MIT Muddy Charles Pub

This coming Tues 19 February 2008, several colleagues & I are running an informal schmooze gathering at the MIT Muddy Charles Pub from 8pm-onward.

This emergent effort is part of a larger Neurotechnology initiative at the Institute.

Join us!

16 February 2008

Intensely Innovative & African Day!

This morning I joined MIT colleagues from Engineering and elsewhere to specify what the goals and methods ought to be for the new Gordon Engineering Leadership program. This initiative spearheaded by Professors Ed Crawley and Joel Schindall -- and financed by MIT alumnus entrepreneur Bernie Gordon -- is all about educating and inspiring MIT engineering undergraduates to found, build, and lead the organizations which will solve the planet's most pressing problems.

At least that's what I think it ought to do.

There's lots of cooks in that particular kitchen, alas, and I fear the program will be crafted by committee and be far too timid.

Later I met with our MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship-IDRC Seed Grant recipient Sherife Messih whose SPARK! initiative promises to catalyze youth entrepreneurship and innovation in Egypt. Sherife is all about identifying promising up-and-coming talent in his homeland, Egypt, and educating and inspiring them towards greatness. (And yes, I do think the Gordon Program folks would benefit from financially and intellectually engaging Sherife, since he's been doing pretty much what they've been talking about.)

Then I met in Harvard Square with MIT undergrad alum Charles Boatin and a couple of his current colleagues at HBS. They're all organizing IMAGINE, their Social Enterprise conference in early March and I agreed to moderate what promises to be a great panel on transformative technologies. Our core realization was that to have sustainable social impact, the truly "social enterprise" ought to be profitable, replicable, and scalable. And that's not merely "top-down thinking" as some faux experts might quibble. This is relevant and rigorous and precisely what this space urgently needs.

Charles & co dropped me off at the Harvard "housing projects" nearby where I joined the dinner discussion of a couple dozen Kennedy School Mason Fellows who are deeply interested in transformative leadership and dramatic change in their home countries. I shared my own experience co-creating and running the joint MIT Media Lab / Sloan School of Management class on Developmental Entrepreneurship and personal startup Howtoons, a spinoff from that class. Others at the dinner spoke of their experiences in the Philippines / South East Asia and Kenya / East Africa and Nigeria / West Africa. The talent and experience and passion in the room was palpable and very exciting! Lots of cross-connections to be made, introductions and links and follow-ups and more...

We finished the evening with a sense of promising things to come. An additional element in the mix is the HBS African Business Conference happening this weekend, with a great line-up of keynotes, panels, and events!

I'll be at part of this African Business Conference and also at the AAAS mega-conference on Science together with my Howtoons superhero illustrator colleague Nick Dragotta. It is Family Science Days at the conference and the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation has been kind enough to host us for DIY demos!

15 February 2008

Bootstrapping the American Dream

Paul Hsieh of GeekPress spotlights a compelling Christian Science Monitor story entitled Homeless: Can You Build a Life from $25 about Adam Shepard who did the life-experiment of starting with $25 and clothes and emerged from the homeless shelter on a prosperity pathway.

Fantastically Entrepreneurial Kenyans! Obama Beer !-)

CNN is on the Kenyan Obamamania story! Kenya's SENATOR beer has been re-christened OBAMA beer in honor of honorary native son and US Presidential frontrunner Barack Obama. Hilarious videomentary!

MIT SEID Spring Kickoff Event

I spoke today at the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development (SEID) Spring Kickoff Event about our Developmental Entrepreneurship initiatives. This great group of mostly MIT Sloan MBA students is dedicated to entrepreneurial solutions to enormous problems in developing countries. My favorite among the cool activities of the SEID is their field-experience projects.

Mapping Impact on Oceans

Science spotlights impact of climate change, fishing, pollution, and other anthropomorphic factors on global marine waters...

MIT Energy Conference ~ 11-12 April 2008

MIT hosts the third annual MIT Energy Conference this April 11-12, 2008. John Doerr. Susan Hockfield. James Rogers. Founded by Nol Browne & Dave Danielson, energy rockstars at MIT. Huge. Go.

14 February 2008

Tegu Toyworks ~ MIT-Linked Venture in Honduras

In an article entitled Saving the Rainforest with... Toys, MIT Science Writer David Chandler writes about MIT Sloan MBA student Craig Doescher's recent venture experience in Honduras helping build up Tegu Toyworks, a kids toys business using sustainably harvested woods. This is one of the great teams my colleagues and I helped support with an MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship-IDRC Seed Grant over IAP 2008.

Bold Saudi Research University ~ KAUST

Yesterday at MIT I attended a overview of programs at the new KAUST university in Saudi Arabia. Huge development effort, billions of dollars in startup and endowment capital, bold plans. I hope they have the intellectual and social flexibility to pull it off. No Muddy Charles Pub on their campus, I imagine.

11 February 2008

MIT Students Planting Ideas for Sustainability

An MIT student-run symposium Focus on Climate Change -- including a Big Picture Panel on Sustainable Energy -- begins tonight, 11 February 2008.

MIT Seed Grant Recipients IAP 2008

I ran the MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship-IDRC Seed Grants program this year and extended funds to nearly 20 teams of students to pursue exploratory market research and gain field experience relevant to their emergent ventures. These teams were both varied in sector and in geographic interest, and included...
  • Appropria MedSolutions ~ South Asian medical incubator business
  • ChiVE China Ventures in Energy ~ Surveying Chinese energy ventures
  • Pure Home Water ~ Ghana water system market studies
  • RemesaTel ~ Mexican mobile phone remittance market
  • uBox ~ Indian patient health informatics systems
  • DWP Developing World Prosthetics ~ Indian prosthetics innovations
  • ClickDiagnostics ~ South Asian cataract diagnostics services
  • Assured Labor ~ Brazilian employer-labor matching service
  • WVN World Venture Networks ~ SME micro-venture funds
  • Rice-to-Riches ~ West African rice mill village ventures
  • Village Drug Store ~ West African village pharmacy network
  • SPARK! ~ Egyptian leadership development program
  • Essential Manpower ~ GCC migrant labor service provider
  • Katalitica ~ Latin American SME training & support
  • Selsabila ~ Sudanese irrigation systems
  • SurePay ~ Nigerian secure payments systems
  • ThinkHealth ~ Indian indoor pollution reduction system
  • TeguToyworks ~ Honduran wooden toys venture
  • Silkmotel ~ Kazak and Central Asian motel chain

MIT Biomedical / Life Science / Healthcare Initiatives

MIT has an enormous range of activities in the biomedical / life science / healthcare sectors, including...

  • All the research in Biology & Biological Engineering, Health Science & Technology, Brain & Cognitive Science, and many Engineering disciplines
  • Center for Biomedical Innovation
  • All the classes and degree-programs in Biology & Biological Engineering, Health Science & Technology, Brain & Cognitive Science, and many Engineering disciplines
  • BioEnterprise Program

10 February 2008

MIT International Research Opportunities Program (IROP)

MIT is generalizing its famous UROP Undergraduate Researcher program to include overseas research opportunities called IROPs.

Saudi Road Raving ;-)

Crazy mesmerizing! These Saudis have lots of spare time and confidence in paradise. Road Skating... And Car Dancing...

Frank Caliendo ;-)

Genius impersonator, Frank Caliendo...

Parkour... Soccer !-)

Parkour is urban gymnastics. See here it applied to soccer, or as the rest of the world knows of the sport, football... (Via GeekPress)

Healthcare Heroics

The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine has a riveting story today entitled Saving Monica about Monica Sprague's fight with a deadly bacteria ravaging her body after she gave birth to second daughter, Sofia.

09 February 2008

Population Density

Population Density, fine grain...

Plate Tectonics

Several million years per second...

The New Global "North" :-)

That way's up? Says who?

Power Maps ~ Geologic, Solar, and Nuclear...

World Map of Natural Hazards... Solar radiation... Nuclear power plants around the world...

MIT $100K Exec Summary Contest Winners!

At last night's MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition Spring Kickoff for the Business Plan Contest (BPC), the winners of the Fall 2007 Executive Summary Contest (ESC) were announced! Over 100 teams entered and 9 winning teams won $1,000 each, including two from the Development Track: Rice-to-Riches and Assured Labor! Be sure to check out the list of Honorable Mentions too! And see the 2008 Kickoff Video...

Socket Sense Expando-Powerstrip!

Clever and useful powerstrip made for expansion... (Via GeekPress)

06 February 2008

Innovators in Health ~ MIT Student Entrepreneurs in India

In an article entitled Smart Pillbox Could be a Lifesaver, MIT Science Writer David Chandler writes about uBox, a "smart pillbox" venture started by MIT students Manish Bhardwaj & company to address challenges in Indian health care delivery. This is one of the great teams my colleagues and I helped support with an MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship-IDRC Seed Grant over IAP 2008.
The uBox team, Innovators in Health, are in the middle of raising the additional funds required to scale-up this compelling solution.

Telecoms World Map

The Guardian maps submarine cables of the world...

Global Maps, Morphed...

Earth, distorted by weight of Often Preventable Deaths... Courtesy Worldmapper Project!

Earth, distorted by economic weight... And Earth, distorted by population weight... Thanks to resalliance.org

MIT Sloan MBAs Jenny Kwan & Rahul Kitchlu on HighTechFever

I hosted MIT Sloan first-year MBA students Jenny Kwan and Rahul Kitchlu on HighTechFever TV show tonight. We discussed their time in China during the past month, MIT's Independent Activities Period (IAP) investigating the Clean Energy Ventures sector. These two were one of the great teams my colleagues and I helped support with an MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship-IDRC Seed Grant.

MIT Developmental Entrepreneurship ~ Alum Ventures

Back in 2001, I co-created the Developmental Entrepreneurship seminar with MIT Media Lab Professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland. This Institute-wide elective offering co-listed between MIT Sloan School of Management and the Media Arts & Sciences is an exploratory “entrepreneurship studio” on founding, financing, and building viable ventures in developing nations and emerging regions. We challenge our students to craft enduring and economically viable solutions to problems faced by at least One Billion people worldwide.

Since starting this class, we've taught it every Fall semester at MIT and stayed in touch with our alum former students. Upwards of a dozen have started actual ventures, including...
  • United Villages ~ Telcom operator of store-and-forward village messaging;
  • FirstMileSolutions ~ Supplier of drive-by WiFi messaging systems;
  • BlueEnergy ~ Nicaraguan Windpower
  • Dimagi ~ East African Health Informatics
  • WAY Systems ~ Mobile Point-of-Sales Payment System
  • WiderReach ~ Mobile Marketplace
  • CellBazaar ~ Bangladeshi EBay on Mobiles
  • GyanPad ~ Indian Kids Learning Tool
  • ApurayNet ~ Peruvian Financial Services
  • Howtoons ~ Educational “How To” Cartoons
  • RemesaTel ~ Mexican Mobile Phone Remittances
  • Explorist ~ Exploratory Participative Scientific Tourism
Furthermore, we have several emergent ventures from our most recent seminar in Fall 2007, including...
  • Click Diagnostics ~ Mobile phone-enabled village health diagnostics;
  • Essential Manpower ~ Middle East / South Asian employment service;
  • Assured Labor ~ Mobile phone-enabled job market;
  • Village Drug Store ~ Ghanaian pharmacy network;
  • CircleGiving ~ Indian microphilanthropy & microfinance network;
  • Rice-to-Riches ~ Liberian Rice Mills network;
  • Ghonsla ~ Pakistani / Central Asian building insulation from straw;
  • Silkmotel ~ Central Asian motel chain on the Silk Road;
Several of these teams my colleagues and I helped support with MIT IDRC-funded Developmental Entrepreneurship Seed Grants over IAP 2008!

Upcoming Global Innovations Events of Special Interest!

Several events & activities related to Developmental Entrepreneurship & Scalable Innovations are brewing in Greater Boston area in weeks and months to come!

Sociometrics with Alex (Sandy) Pentland

MIT Media Lab Professor Alex (Sandy) Pentland describes his work together with colleagues to build what I call "Socioscopes" -- i.e. tools & systems to observe people's behaviors and capture Sociometrics

You Can Hear Me Now by Nicholas Sullivan

MIT Visiting Scholar Nicholas Sullivan's book, You Can Hear Me Now, has a nice companion video interview with Nick... Nick has a great phrase describing the power of business in developing countries: Inclusive Capitalism.

Genius for Change @ MIT

MIT World placed online a video entitled Genius for Change from the MIT Museum's Soapbox session with MacArthur Award-winner Amy Smith and three of her students, Jules Walter, Kendra Johnson, and Amos Winter.

04 February 2008

Yael Naim ~ Apple's Air Ad Singer...

French-Israeli Yael Naim singing New Soul, the soundtrack during the Apple Air advertisement...

MIT Design-Build Invent Classes

MIT Media Lab professor Ed Boyden asked me which faculty "teach lab classes in which students not only design, but build, new inventions?" A few come immediately to mind...

MIT-related Global Action Labs in Spring 2008

There are several key classes this Spring 2008 at MIT & peer schools, including...

MIT Africa Projects

MIT-related projects in Africa include...
  • Lebone -- Tanzania
  • Pure Home Water -- Ghana
  • Wheelchair Design -- Several countries
  • Solar Turbine Group -- Lesotho
  • SurePay -- Nigeria
  • Village Drug Store -- Ghana
  • Rice-to-Riches -- Liberia
  • Matchbox -- General
  • World Venture Networks -- General
  • Loband -- Kenya
  • SPARK! -- Egypt
  • EASE -- Ghana
  • EPROM -- Kenya & East Africa for starters
  • AITI -- Kenya for starters, also Ghana and others
  • ...

Various Competitions

Various interesting engineering & business competitions at MIT & beyond...

From Sustainability to Vitality

Much of my personal historical distaste for the term Sustainability is due to both its all-encompassing nebulousness -- meaning it's been co-opted and used by competing groups to mean opposing things -- as well as its lack of aspiration or glory -- as if in order to be sustainable, we must in some way stagnate and also reign in goals, growth, and other consequences of human achievement.

A much better aspirational word is Vitality.

Folding Bike Wheel

Duncan Fitzsimons has invented a full-sized bicycle wheel which collapses for compact transport & storage...

03 February 2008

Selsabila ~ MIT Student Entrepreneurs in the Sudan

In an article entitled Pumping Up Desert Agriculture, MIT Science Writer David Chandler writes about Selsabila, a water-pumps business started by MIT students Zahir Dossa and Mustafa Dafalla in the Sudan. This is one of the great teams my colleagues and I helped support with an MIT IDRC Developmental Entrepreneurship Seed Grant over IAP 2008.

02 February 2008

Improv Everywhere's Frozen Grand Central :-)

Paul (via Brian) from GeekPress spotlights this great art performance -- Frozen Grand Central -- where hundreds of people froze for five minutes in the middle of New York's train station...

MIT 2020 ~ Imagining Institute as LEED Campus

I came to MIT as a freshman from sunny suburban California in the mid-1980s. At the Institute I discovered Project Athena, a campus-wide computing network which gave me and thousands of fellow students access to high-end workstations, online email, instant messages, networked files, served applications, and more, all functionality we today would call the Internet & Web.

In other words, we saw the future first.

Project Athena made MIT a predictive microcosm, a living lab, a place where my classmates and I experienced everyday artifacts ten years before the rest of humanity. But only in the narrow domain of information and computing, alas. Because, by contrast, the physical environment of the Institute was (and remains) an aesthetic embarrassment and environmental anachronism, an ugly concrete jungle, electrically inefficient and thermally porous, ill-maintained and locally-optimized, kluged together, and worse. Even small details tell all -- despite over a century of closed-loop temperature feedback control systems, my dormroom heater was open-loop and had two settings: On & Off. Although our motto is Mens et Manus, we at MIT have not practiced what we preach about energy and innovation.

Things are improving, however, so I'm increasingly optimistic. The new MIT Sloan expansion project is supposed to be the first really integrated design effort and promises to become a top-tier LEED Building. Plus there's growing interest in Greening MIT, in Walking the Talk on campus, and in addressing global climate and energy challenges more generally.

But beyond good intentions, new technical inventions, and LEED Buildings, what we really need are complex, scalable solutions of enormous magnitudes. We need LEED Cities, and even LEED Countries, and ultimately we need to become a LEED Civilization on a vital planet Earth.

That's all rather much for us to tackle alone or at once, but we can commit to things closer to home: let us make MIT a pioneering LEED Campus by 2020, a microcosm of urbanized humanity to-come, and a beacon of inspiration for how we might craft a vital, prosperous, sustainable future. This would mean inter-connecting things which are usually seen as separate silos: renewing our physical plant, transforming operating practices, empowering students and leveraging extracurricular activities, orchestrating inspiring educational initiatives, and building institutions to shape and deliver the deep research agendae embodying the principles & practices we seek more widely.

In the upcoming dozen years, let us band together, rally resources, and act coherently to pursue a five-fold path:

(1) Research -- Recognizing that truly integrative solutions are needed, including especially innovations in the applied social sciences, let us commit to raising $100-200 Million to create an Institute for Systems Strategy & Innovation (ISSI) at MIT to pursue a global research agenda embracing energy & environment, cities & society, and the dynamics of individual & organizational change. To properly study complex systems, such an ISSI would enable both thinking-and-doing: both collecting systems data through a globally distributed Innovation Observatory Network (ION) and practicing solutions for-real on actual systems, including our own MIT urban campus as Living Lab.

(2) Education -- To educate and inspire new generations of MIT students to both imagine and enact constructive change, let's create Institute-wide elective class offerings in Systems Strategy & Innovation and other emergent domains. Let's scale-up financial support for systems-oriented degree-programs and also minors in energy, environment, and more.

(3) Extracurriculars -- Since so many solutions have emerged from interested grassroots student initiative, let's leverage this by financing a $5-15 Million per annum exploratory research fund and seed grant mechanism to float tangible exploratory projects, perhaps largely managed by and for students.

(4) Infrastructure -- Let's envision an future campus with a truly integrative design and plan, where we cut across infrastructural and aesthetic and social silos, and instead weave together a really great, livable, economic, and vibrant environment. This means crafting a master-plan which will emerge over time to spotlight key needs, including building new capacity, for instance, expanding the MIT Co-Gen facility, as well as systematically retrofitting one to three buildings per year, and crafting the institutional ability to scale and replicate doing these things.

(5) Operations -- We can and must aim for greatness in execution at the Institute, setting and delivering on bold overall operating goals: for instance, let's systematically reduce emissions and waste; cutting 1-3% out of each annual energy budget, on a per-capita basis; deploy metering & feedback sub-systems to enable individual incentives & behavior modification; shoot for a carbon-neutral MIT Sloan by 2015 and a carbon-neutral campus-wide by 2020, and more.

Bold, but not impossible.

The MIT of 2020 should be a microcosm of what we want our planet to become.

Martin Luther King ~ I Have a Dream

Our Climate Change workshop at MIT this Fri-Sat included excerpts from Martin Luther King's bio surrounding the escalation of Rosa Parks' bus protest into economic defiance and social action. King played a key role here, perhaps on his first pulpit with national import. He'd go on to more, perhaps most especially in DC conveying his Dream... And Seeing the Promised Land...