EIT CLC Stockholm

Today the EIT ICT Labs CLC in Stockholm hosted a talk on innovation and entrepreneurship by Nicklas Lundblad. He is Public policy officer at Google, and also an adjunct professor at KTH.

The discussion touched on different topics related to innovation, with a focus on what Google is doing.

As Lundblad said, innovation needs to be useful, therefore it’s important to take a look at how it can be embedded in society. When innovations fail to address people’s needs, they face rejection. For example, Google Glass has been considered a failure under many aspects. The company eventually realised that they were not a viable consumer product, because there was no use case in which people would be willing to use them. On the other hand, certain contexts (e.g. medical practice, construction workers, etc.) proved to be more fruitful.

Lundblad also talked about how government policy can influence the trajectory a company takes and this is especially relevant to Google, which has been under scrutiny in Europe. Legislators argue that the company has a de-facto monopoly in the search market, while they say to be in the “information discovery market”, which is much broader and where competition is more than abundant. While definitely clever, this position only circumvents the issue at stake and I don’t think it is acceptable to have big corporations try to dictate policies and basically undermine regulations in the name of a better market. It is true that the lack of a single digital market has consequences on the entrepreneurial efforts of Europe, as Lundblad highlighted, but the solution is not as easy as Google might make it seem.

The discussion also focused on what innovation really is, and using Google’s mission statement as a reference, Lundblad concluded that it could be said that innovation really is about organising information. In that sense, Google is trying to keep innovating by moving in always new territories.

Overall, this was an extremely interesting event, that nicely touched on many topics we discussed and read about during the course.

Pushbullet

Pushbullet is a cross-platform application that aims to connect multiple devices to create a shared user experience: with it you can share your phone’s notifications to your computers, share files/links/notes between devices, and answer messages on your phone from your computer.

Developed by a six-person startup, it’s been described as a life-changing application. It recently received $1.5 million in seed funding, and it’s expanding rapidly: at the moment is available both on desktop (as a browser extension or application) and mobile.

I tried using it with an Android smartphone and a Macbook: in this case it’s especially useful, because otherwise the communication between the two devices would be quite limited.

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Yesterday at SUP46 (Startup People of Sweden) I attended an #ExpertNight focused on funding for startups, a topic closely related to what we did and discussed about in class.

The event tried to answer some of the most common questions startups face: “When should you raise money? How much do you need? Who should you take funding from? Is it better to grow organically?”

Among the guests for the panel discussion were Tim Yi He (Northzone), Joakim Dal (GP Bullhound), Johan Crona (ALMI Invest), Henrik von Stockenstrom (FundedByMe), Anette Nordvall (Stoaf.se).

After a brief introduction, the panelists talked about how they scout for startups to invest in: some go to events and get to know people, some do generic market research to see if there’s anything interested that has been funded recently, others just filter the applications they receive.

The most important question is another, though: what is the selling point that captures the interest of investors when talking with startups?

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Simplenote_hashslush

Automattic was recently listed by the Wall Street Journals as one of the world’s 73 most-valuable startups. Funded in 2005 by Matt Mullenweg, it is mostly known for being the driving force behind WordPress.

WordPress is not their only product, though. Among them, there is Simplenote, a note taking app that values simplicity. I have been using it for a some time now, and I think it’s worth trying.

The app is free to use and it’s available on multiple platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, Kindle. It’s also possible to use it from the web.

It comes with a lot of good features: instant synchronisation across different devices; tagging; revision history (to go back in time and never loose changes).

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ns_platform_3

This week in class I presented you a business idea about public transportation. My inspiration was a real-life experiment conducted by ProRail and NS Dutch , and designed by Edenspiekermann, a Dutch design agency.

They created a “LED display which provides real-time information on carriage crowdedness and other details”. Then, they conducted a three-month pilot run at the train station of Den Bosch, a city in the south of The Netherlands. People really liked the concept and “gave NS a significantly higher evaluation at the end of the trial period”.

Edenspiekermann & ProRail

Their design process resulted in a physical display, but I thought that the initial concept can be further explored and expanded, and that’s how I came up with the idea of an integrated, smart system designed to enhance public transportation in big cities, with multiple functionalities.

If you know of any other interesting innovations in the field of transportation, give a shout in the comments.