Met the students this morning – they’re here for the 152.334 Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship paper, and we started off with a session setting out the aims for the next few days, and working out how the practical side of the #SWPalmy Startup weekend will fit with the academic side — linking theory and practice in other words. We had some good discussions around people’s expectations of the weekend; excitement in the air, and some a little apprehensive too, as they go off to join a much bigger group this evening. Good to see an impressive Judging Panel too (scroll down the page on the above link). Looking forward to my evening session!
Yesterday, I interviewed Richard Dryden, Marketing and Events Co-ordinator for the BCC, about what to expect from the Start-up weekend on 12-15 September. Here’s a summary of the key points:
- You refer to the Startup Weekend as “and MBA in a weekend”. What do you mean by that?
Well, participants have said it’s like compressing the intensity and learning of an MBA into a short period of time. You really get a thorough grounding in all aspects of business model development, the marketing channels, the customer architecture, in a short space of time – there’s nothing like it! You use tools like the Business Model Canvas in a very real sense, really refining ideas int a sharp focus. When I did the Weekend myself, we reduced our initial 150 post-it notes to around 10, taking our idea from something that was OK, but quite general, down to something really specific. there’s a real sense of exhilaration afterwards.
- What kind of ideas do people work on?
It really varies. Some are as you’d expect, high-tech, high growth. Other ideas that are popular are those that impact the community, social enterprises, those with an environmental impact. You also of course see some agri-food businesses, reflecting local interests and strengths. And of course, there are fashions – apps are very popular at the moment for example. It’s across the board really.
- What happens after? Do people go on and set up businesses?
It depends – some people do — the make up of your team is very important as to whether you have the momentum to keep going after. The main thing though, is the personal development and the sense of achievement, as well as having acquired new skills. You learn a lot about yourself. At the end of the day, what you put in is what you take out – bring an open mind!
One of the beauties of teaching a ‘block’ course is that you really get the chance to do things differently from traditional week-by-week teaching. In two weeks time, I’ll be with students on 152.334 Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. At the heart of their course is the Palmy North Startup weekend, part of a national New Zealand phenomenon. As well as participating in this intensive start-up experience, I’ll be working with the students to set the event in a wider context, providing some background material and asking them to produce ‘learning logs’ . The Startup weekend is delivered here by Palmy North’s BCC (Building Clever Companies) team, who have described the event as an ‘MBA in a weekend’! I’m interviewing them on Monday to see what’s behind that claim!
I’m not used to the seasons here yet, and it was a shame missing the lovely English summer this year. But, I did feel a hint of spring in the air yesterday at Wharerata house, a beautiful old ‘pioneer’ style house that is now a beautiful function venue on campus.
As some of you know, I’ve recently taken up a new role as Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Massey University in New Zealand, Manawatu campus. I’ve been here almost a month now, settling in, getting to know the job, the town, the campus. And it’s all been such a good start, such a supportive and encouraging environment. VERY busy, but here’s a few pics of the beautiful riverside walk, the garden of my new home, which I’m very much looking forward to enjoying in the summer, and the new Impreza. I couldn’t last long without the Impreza to hand! The last pic is the gorgeous view from my office window. Just waiting for my container now, which is leaving Singapore today I hear! Hopefully many more posts to come about new developments soon.
Changing technology ensures that the question of what it means to be human, and how we interact with and sometimes fall in love with other humans, remains of interest to artists and film-makers. Weird Science, Electric Dreams, S1m0ne and Bladerunner for example, draw on the possibilities of artificial intelligence and robotics, and love blossoms, or otherwise, with a techno-twist. Themes of rivalry, fantasy and loss are given new life through exploring the concerns of materiality arising from imagined technologies. The object of affection may have a physical form, such as Bladerunner’s replicants, or may only exist in virtual form, as in Her, where an operating system called Samantha (expressed by Scarlett Johansson) commands the attention of the central character, Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenix. The distinctive element in Her is the focus on intimacy with technology itself; Samantha’s introduction of a physical form into the relationship, a human stranger ‘surrogate’, is unsuccessful, and instead, the ‘couple’ settle into a routine of picnics and domesticity. The inherent social detachment of such an arrangement is alluded to in Theodore’s job, a letter-writer at ‘beautifulhandwrittenletters.com’.
The film is interesting in that is asks us to question whether we can be really intimate with a technological construct such as Samantha. We all know people who develop quite warm feelings towards Siri, or their Satnav (perhaps shouting at the latter, in a more realistic echo of domesticity). There are stories of deep engagement with avatar relationships in Second Life. If we consider more elaborate future relationships, whether in sci-fi or real life, the question of slavery, or domination arises, if the techno-partner is deemed to have a form of consciousness. Yet in Her, Samantha ultimately calls it a day and leaves cyber-town, suggesting a kind of freedom. Of course, building such a consciousness is difficult, and will require huge investment, with Apple, Google and Amazon now working on speech communication systems. Ultimately then, Theodore is being intimate with the product of a huge corporate that will no doubt be hoovering up his most private thoughts into forms of targeted advertising, or worse albeit in a surreal, calm vision of a future Los Angeles. Kevin Warwick, of cyborg experiments fame, talks of upgrading the human through technologically-mediated interconnection, where anatomical enhancement offers endless possibilities of unlimited sensation. While seems to offer more human to human engagement though this too is clearly open to manipulation. Techno love dreams are never far from dystopian nightmares.
Excellent British Council Workshop last week, presentation below
February 11, 2014 by Lorraine Warren
An enjoyable and productive time at the INSPIRE Research Conference in Dubai this week. As well as papers from IMSciences scholars, papers were presented by participants from IBA-Sukkur, COMSATS IIT-Attock, Bahuddin Zakariya-Multan, Kinnaird College for Women -Lahore, University of Peshawar, Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women’s University -Peshawar, University of Lahore and Khushal Khan Khattak University-Karak. Plenary presentations were given by the UK Project Investigators, Lorraine Warren and Mine Karatas-Ozkan, as well as Mr Ismail Badat from the British Council, Mr Javed Iqbal, Regional Head of KPK SMEDA, Dr Nasser Ali Khan, VC of the University of Haripur, Mrs Nabeela Farman of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, KPK and Dr Muhammad Ali Joint Director of IMSciences and Co-ordinator of ORIC at IMSciences. A Keynote address on How to Publish in Quality Journals was given by Professor Alistair Anderson of The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen and Editor of Entrepreneurship and Regional Development.
The Best Paper prize was awarded jointly to Mr Attaullah Shah of IMSciences (Importance of Judicial Efficiency in Capital structure Decisions of Small Firms: Evidence from Judicial districts of Pakistan) and Dr Zia Obaid of the University of Peshawar (Social Entrepreneurs in the post 9/11 World: Realigning Networks for Better Trust).
The Upcoming Researcher award went to Mr Adnan Javed (Power Dynamics of the institutional change process and organisational response)