Friday, October 17, 2008

Innovation Day

Innovation Day – UCSB’s Technology and Entrepreneurial experts bringing solutions to our current and long-term societal challenges. Sponsored by UCSB’s Technology Management Program (TMP), Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and ConvEne IGERT.


UCSB Research Showcase. UCSB science and engineering students presented their research in the fields of energy, environment, IT/telecom, and lifescience/healthcare.


Professor John Greathouse from TMP gave an interesting opening speech about the goals of the Technology Management Program – “to give UCSB students an unfair advantage in technology entrepreneurship” by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to succeed in the field. I found it notable that Professor Greathouse stressed that “wealth is more than money” and presented three examples of how the pursuit of eco-entrepreneurship and technological innovation can build spirit and mind in addition to bank accounts:

  • Work-life balance is important. Success in business is a “hollow victory” without friends and family to share it with.
  • Giving back to the community can strengthen your company’s local image as well as provide you with a sense of purpose.
  • Doing Well by Doing Good. Relationships based on trust are essential to maintaining working alliances with clients and investors.

Professor Susannah Scott presented the ConvEne IGERT program goals (see the website:, specifically, to develop a new type of education and training program for students who will become leaders in the fields of energy conversion research and entrepreneurship. She also encouraged students to look beyond innovation within just the U.S. and understand that the growing global energy and environmental challenges require technological improvements and diffusion on a grander, global scale.


Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Developent and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard gave a lecture entitled Entrepreneurship and Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities.


  • “Grand Challenges for Engineering,” a recent publication by the National Academy of Engineering, which identifies 14 achievable and sustainable opportunities for innovation which would help people and the planet thrive in the 21st century. Action areas include making solar energy economical, providing access to clean water, restoring and improving the urban infrastructure, and others. See
  • Professor Juma believes that the role of universities will develop in two ways: localization efforts and globalization efforts. In a local effort, universities will take a bigger role in sustainability practices within their communities. Global efforts will include creating international connections to share knowledge and technologies.
  • Professor Juma asserted that the greatest challenge to eco-entrepreneurship is not the absence of technology and funding, but the unwillingness for people to make big changes, or to “think outside the box.” The diffusion of renewable energy technology into commercial wide-spread use has been slowed by the resistance of “incumbent forces,” or society’s long-term commitments to certain practices and energy infrastructures. An example of an incumbent force is the QWERTY keyboard. Although the QWERTY layout may not be the most efficient or ergonomic, it is firmly rooted in American culture and would be difficult to replace even if a superior product were available. Professor Juma noted that a way for alternative technology advocates to avoid the opposition of incumbent forces is to introduce the technology in a location that is not already firmly rooted in a particular practice or infrastructure – e.g., introduce off-grid solar energy in Africa.

Unfortunately this is when I had to scoot on to class and lab. If any other ConvEne IGERT Fellows went to the following talks, care to post your thoughts? - Michelle S.

C. Thomas Hopkins - The New Venture Road Map

Frank Robinson - Market Validation

Friday, October 10, 2008

Starting the blog

Here you are, the new ConvEne IGERT blog, started 10/10/2008.