GE’s Fascinating Innovation Barometer

What are the most important factors to improve innovation in a country??

GE has come up with a fascinating metric. They surveyed executives around the world regarding their views on innovation, and mapped out the data in a way that allows the viewer to study the relationships between different data topics, over geography and time. You can also compare the data they got from 2011 and 2012.

Check it out here:

 

Rounding up the week on Education: Sweden’s Newest School with Classroom

 

Who wouldn’t want to go to a school like this??

No doubt you’ve heard about this already, if you have been trawling the internet. If not, read on…

 

From Architizer:

The young—and the young at heart—have a seemingly infinite capacity to project fantasies unto ordinary spaces. It is this kernel of wide-eyed creativity that carries on into adulthood, fighting to stay alive and to push us to keep imagining new and better worlds. Swedish educators seem to have had this in mind when they commissioned the architects at Rosan Bosch to build a wholly original kind of schoolhouse. The Swedish Free School Organization Vittra has been pioneering a new kind of pedagogical space, specifically one without walls. Gone are the classrooms and their rigid alignment of desks, and in their place emerges a colorful, seamless landscape of abstractly themed learning environments.

Also read about the following alternative schools:

John Hardy’s Green School

African Leadership Academy

 

 

Struggling to Startup Your Own Social Enterprise?? Here’s a great resource…

Need a blueprint for starting a social enterprise?? Look no further!

Starting a social enterprise is not easy; some might argue that because the field is so “new”, fewer resources mean that its harder than a regular startup.

So if you are wondering how to do it and are struggling, there is a resource that might be perfect for you…

Echoing Green Alumnus, TED Senior Fellow, MIT graduate, inventor, tinkerer, and founder of Social Tech Enterprise AIDG, Peter Haas is putting together a great webinar on “How to Set Up your Own Social Enterprise“. The workshop is aimed at teaching novices tools to be successful in the field of social enterprise.

“Are you frustrated trying to start your social enterprise. Struggling with sustainability, financial planning, impact reporting? This webinar is an overview of running a social enterprise. It takes from the experiences of some of the lead social entrepreneurs of our day to give you guidance on lessons learned and practical tools to help you overcome your obstacles. It will save you hours of work and research. Don’t reinvent the wheel, leverage some of the best practices of some of the best social entrepreneurs in the world today.”

 

To register, go here.

 

AWESOME FREE class from STAR Development Economists: 14.73x The Challenges of Global Poverty

Star Development Economists Banerjee and Duflo to jointly teach a free class on Global Poverty

MIT’s EdX is offering an awesome MUST-register class by JPAL geniuses, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo to teach an intro class on Global Poverty.

Duflo and Banerjee are the founders of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL), behind the most interesting and fascinating new research on poverty issues in the Developing World, and are having a significant impact on international aid and development interventions.

Their courses are generally hard to get into (I can personally attest to this), and expensive. But now you can get it for free. Definitely check it out!

Further reading: Tworque/JPAL

Free Online Education is Leveling the Playing Field for Economically Challenged Communities

 

What if these women were watching a lecture by a professor from MIT or Harvard?? Its now a reality…

Now that opensource thinking has proliferated the technology space, a whole slew of products have emerged. Now all you need is an internet connection of some sort, a pair headphones and a phone with video capability and suddenly a person from Somalia or an innercity kid from Nairobi or South Central Los Angeles can be educated  in the same class by a professor from Harvard.

Several years ago, MIT had decided to put all their courses up for free on something called OpenCourseware (OCW). I didn’t particularly enjoy the material on there, but I soon realized I was in the minority. During my travels, I came across several people from around the world, particularly parts where a lack of financial resources and good universities abounds, who had successfully used the material and even learned it better than me.

Since then, several others have emerged that can run the gamut of education from grade school (the Khan Academy, TED-Ed) to university education (EdX, the new MIT-Harvard initiative to replace OCW,  Coursera from Stanford, Udacity), and beyond (Udemy).

I’m slowly wading my way through all the different programs, and trying to figure out what works for me. But its super cool that finally the developing world has almost equal access to anyone else anywhere else. Hurrah to the future of education. Now if we can just get more women access to this, and we will see the world change for the better.

Get your genome decoded. Take control of your health risks! (23&Me has a $99 deal for a limited time!)

The 23andMe Spit Kit. Now available for $99!

For the longest time I didn’t have a clue why personal genome decoding was such a big deal. Yeah, yeah…laugh all you want, but in the grander scheme of things that are important to me, and the places where I have worked, getting your next meal, finding clean water, and surviving AIDS were issues that surrounded the people I worked with. I could’ve cared less that I didn’t have my genome tested.

Recently, I had the rare chance to do free genetics testing at 23andMe. So I thought…Why not?? The whole process was pretty easy and well designed. Once you pay, you get a small box in the mail that contains all the instructions. It took me all of 15 mins to read the pamphlet, scrub my cheek, spit in the enclosed tube, register online, and send off my DNA to the lab. 15 mins…swear!

Two days later, the lab emailed to say that they got my sample, and two weeks later, they emailed to say that I got my results.

I logged in and BAM, I had my results. It was interesting, to say the least…from my spit, they had figured out my eye color, skin color, whether I was lactose intolerant, what disease and carrier disease risks I had. With new genetic tests, 23andMe updates your report and cites the necessary literature regularly. I now know my Parkinsons, Cancer and Alzheimer’s risks. Everything is pretty well explained, and I learned more about my health than I realized I could through this medium.

How accurate it is, depends on how much you believe in science. And it is a game of odds (in that they will tell you the odds of you getting any particular disease is some percentage). So depending on how much of a gambler you are, you can bet on the side that works for you. But the good thing is that its made me more aware and vigilant about specific health concerns. Head here to know how it is relevant and how the whole testing works.

Normally, the test costs $300, but they have it on special for $99. A great Xmas gift if you asked me. Head to www.23andme.com for more information.

Innovative New Water Filter Design funded by YOU from Soma Water Filter.

 

The personal filtration market has an interesting, new competitor

Because I am a water engineer and have studied the water quality in the US (atleast the areas I’ve lived in), I tend to generally drink water straight out of the tap. But I still love new design and technology in the space.

There’s a new competitor out in the personal water filtration space, competing against Brita, PUR, and a couple of similar products on the market. Imagine a designer (similar to IDEO) being asked to redesign a Brita Water Filter…that would be SOMA Water Filter.

What makes them particularly unique is that they are 100% recyclable and sustainable (excluding the fuel costs/postage involved with shipping). The filters are compostable (I assume they use activated charcoal, like Brita). Glass makes them classy, and I expect dishwasher safe (but also breakable). But their model is particularly unique and SMART. They work on a subscription basis, generally by half a year or annually. Every couple of months, they will ship you a water filter…making them a regular part of your life.  And they have a brilliant and very catchy advertising video. They certainly know what they are doing!! I wouldn’t be surprised if they soon pair up with Charity:Water.

Check out their excellent kickstarter campaign. If you do invest, tell me what you think of the water…they are for sure going into business because they’ve already made a splash in the media and are close to getting their ask:

Google UK’s Think Quarterly

Google UK’s Think Quarterly Magazine

Google’s UK division has a great new quarterly magazine, called the Think Quarterly, that has been publishing online for free since March 2011.

The themed issues all call upon established CEOs, startup founders, and other innovators to reflect on the themes in that issue. Taking lessons from within Google, to people all around, its a fairly insightful magazine. Thus far, seven issues have been published on the following themes:

  • The Open Issue: Covers the various “Open” initiatives and the movement towards transparency.
  • The Creativity Issue: ‘New industries start with people having fun,’ writes Tim O’Reilly in Faire Play.” ”Dedicated to digital creativity in its many forms – from YouTube remixes to next-generation advertising to data visualizations – and what it means for your business.”
  • The Play Issue: This is my favorite issue. “In this issue, we explore the rising importance of play – in work and in life.
  • The Speed Issue: “The Speed issue of Google’s Think Quarterly is about th[e] acceleration of everything – what is changing and how it works, why it matters and when it doesn’t.”
  • The People Issue: “This issue of Think Quarterly is people talking about people. We hope that the diverse spread of thoughts and opinions helps you connect with your customers, your employees, and the human soul of your business.”
  • The Innovation Issue: “Where can you break molds and shape the future? We hope this gives you inspiration, insight, and some new ideas of your own.”
  • The Data Issue: “amongst a morass of information, how can you find the magic metrics that will help transform your business?”

Xylem’s Innovative Water Convention

The Xylem World Water Show’s entrance page…look at the virtual classroom that you can “walk” into on the right.

The connective power of the internet and more powerful tools like smartphones and computers are both increasing innovation in otherwise stale areas, as well as decreasing barriers to entry for players who previously couldn’t come to the playing field for a variety of reasons.

Xylem, Inc is a company I had scarcely heard about until recently when I came across their World-Wide Water Show, a virtual trade show and convention that you could attend from the comfort of your living room.  Access to an internet browser and a dial-up connection gave you access to a whole world of international technology, and speakers. Suddenly, third-world citizens have the same access to opportunity as those from the first-world.

The one-day show on Nov 29, 2012, meant that you could attend at ANY point in the world’s 24-hour cycle. Like any convention, there was a calendar and agenda for when things were being showcased at what times. You could “wander” into a conference room that had a live speaker who was being simulcast; there were moderated forums for chat during the speech and a space to ask questions. Or you could go to the trade floor and “meet” virtually with experts from sponsor companies who “displayed” their wares and answered any questions. Forums or “live chats” took the place of face-to-face interactions.

Xylem also worked hard to incorporate features that made you feel like you were in a conference room or trade floor, by looking at the screen and letting you play like you were in a “Second Life” style setting.

If you are interested, the content and features are still up for another 85 days. Highly recommend it!! Go hereregister and click on the “on demand” button.

I’ll be honest… even as a water engineer, it is a little boring, so I didn’t stay too long. But its still worth visiting to check out the idea in action, the platform and the overall design/user experience…it was extremely innovative and brilliantly done at a fraction of the cost of a real convention. Granted there was no face-to-face interaction…but this could easily lead to that through.