Friday, October 31, 2008

HI Tech

Just recently announced is a new report for the science and technology industries in Hawaii.

The contractor, the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) prepared an economic and workforce profile of Hawaii's science and technology industries. Overall, the report found that in 2007 the private technology sector contributed over $3 billion to the state's $61 billion economy (5% of the total).

Combining the public with the private sector, the technology sector accounted for more than 31,000 jobs, 3.6% of the state's total employment. Of particular relevance for our own potential growth, over 7,000 of these public sector jobs were attributed to the state's large military presence.

The report notes that many defense workers are involved in the commercial market segments as aerospace and ICT industries overlap significantly.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

U.S. Innovation Down?

Pulled from a recent Computerworld Article:

By most measures, the U.S. is in a decade-long decline in global technological competitiveness. The reasons are many and complex, but central among them is the country's retreat from long-term basic research in science and technology, coupled with a surge in R&D by countries such as China.

It's interesting that this article takes such a negative view on this topic.  First of all, the US is still innovating at a rapid clip, it's just that the emergence of thriving market economies make America less relatively dominant.  I'd argue that's not a bad thing; world production is up dramatically as a direct result.  Secondly, while it's true that large monolithic R&D projects are in decline, exciting venture-funded startups are more than picking up the slack.  From Online Services to Alternative Energy, US entrepeneurs are consistently delivering on new frontiers.  Let's keep at it!

Until next time!

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tech Chases Fantasy

Only if you're a fan of old science fiction, or a more current fan of bad film, would you remember Heinlein's Starship Troopers.

USA Today's article about the Pentagon's interest in spaceship delivery of 13 (what a number!) soldiers to hot spots around the world immediately brought to mind that old book and its derivative film.

Of more intriguing interest is the idea that our ideas for the future are presaged in science fiction, the notion that is only sometimes explored in other media.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Congressman Smith Offers Bill Protecting Travelers from Suspicion-less Laptop Searches

Congressman Adam Smith introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to ensure that American citizens and legal residents returning to the U.S. from overseas are not subject to invasive searches of their laptop computers or other electronic devices without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin introduced a similar bill in the Senate. The Washington Technology Industry Association had previously expressed concern about suspicion-less searches and their impact on business travelers.

“The chief responsibility of the United States Government is to protect its citizens, and while doing so it is critical that we do not overshadow the obligation to protect the privacy and rights of Americans,” said Adam. “This legislation will provide clear and commonsense legal avenues for the Department of Homeland Security to pursue those who commit crime and wish to do our country harm without infringing on the rights of American citizens. Importantly, it will provide travelers a level of privacy for their computers, digital cameras, cellular telephones and other electronic devices consistent with the Constitution and our nation’s values of liberty.”

The Travelers Privacy Protection Act was introduced in response to a Department of Homeland Security policy, released on July 16th that allows customs agents to “review and analyze” the contents and files of laptops and other electronic devices for an unspecified period of time “absent individualized suspicion.” This policy was issued following report of U.S. customs agents requiring citizens and legal residents to relinquish their laptops or cell phones to DHS authorities for lengthy periods of time while the devices were searched, and in some cases, contents of the devices copied. Reports have also surfaced that some devices had been confiscated and returned weeks or months later with no explanation.

The legislation requires reasonable suspicion of illegal activity for Department of Homeland Security agents to search the contents of laptop computers or other electronic devices carried by U.S. citizens or lawful residents, and it prohibits profiling travelers based on their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. Additionally, the bill requires probable cause and a warrant or court order to seize information uncovered during a search, and specifies that searches carried on for more than 24 hours become a seizure. This bill also ensures that information acquired during an electronic search is protected by strict disclosure limitations, with exceptions for sharing information about possible criminal violations or foreign intelligence information. The Travelers Privacy Protection Act also ensures that DHS provides information on its border search policies and practices to Congress and the public.
Congressman Smith Secures Important Funding for Science & Technology Projects

Congressman Adam Smith recently secured $24.6 million for military projects in the Puget Sound region. The funding was included in a spending package that included funds for the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and military construction projects for fiscal year 2009. “The package helps restore our military’s readiness and provides our troops and families with the support they need. I’m also pleased that we included funds for important science and technology projects at Ft. Lewis, McChord Air Force Base and around the region,” Adam said.

The spending package was signed into law by the President on September, 30th.

Funding for important regional projects, many involving local companies, include:

· $8.6 million for Washington State Air National Guard’s 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron to build a new cyber-warfare facility for use by the (IWAS) at McChord Air Force Base.

· $200,000 for the Madigan Army Medical Center Digital Pen project to acquire digital pens that capture and upload writing electronically while also recording care in ink on paper to improve the process of recording and transmitting patient care information; ADAPX of Seattle.

· $4.4 million for the University of Washington’s Institute of Surgical and Interventional Simulation (ISIS) to upgrade existing facilities, expand their existing partnerships with Madigan Army Medical Center and VA Puget Sound, and explore ways in which surgical simulation can enhance the treatment and rehabilitation of soldiers; University of Washington, Seattle.

· $3 million for the Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute, for research on limb and tissue regeneration for battlefield injuries using bone marrow and stem cells; Oregon Biomedical Engineering Institute of Portland.

· $1.6 million for million for Optical Neural Techniques for Combat/Post-Trauma Health Care with the potential to provide full restoration of hearing for injured soldiers; Aculight Corporation of Bothell.

· $3.2 for Mobile Object Infrastructure Technology enabling the U.S. Army Intelligence Command (INSCOM) to continue research and development of solutions to network computing challenges, including bandwidth and information-sharing constraints; Topia Technology of Tacoma.

The bill also contained several initiatives to revitalize defense laboratories and enable them to better support critical research and development missions. Other important programs that received funding include:

·$40 million for Impact Aid, which compensates school districts with a significant population of students from military families. School districts surrounding Ft. Lewis and McChord rely heavily on the program.

·$1.5 million for the Technology and National Security Program (TNSP) at the National Defense University.

·$1.7 billion for Department of Defense basic research (President’s request) which represents a 16% increase in real terms over the FY2008 budget.

·Several initiatives to revitalize defense laboratories and enable them to better support critical research and development missions.

Monday, October 6, 2008

UW Technology gives away software LoJack for laptops

I was just catching up on some technology stuff from the past week when I came across a small blurb in the UW "Ontech" email list that made me stand up and take notice. It turns out that UW Technology (the Seattle unit in charge of all technology which is horribly misnamed "UWT") has created what could be called a "Software LoJack" for your laptops. Basically the software sits on your computer and occasionally sends out a signal giving away the location of the device. Then you (and only you) can retrieve that data and use it however you want.

Obviously, you shouldn't get all Death Wish on someone if you track your stolen computer down, probably best to call the cops. There are other questions I have as well; such as how easily the client is fooled and how you get the actual information and how granular it is. But as far as a tool that is lightweight and secure (the data is only accessible to one user -- you) it looks pretty neat and I'll be installing it on some staff laptops here in the library to test it.

The software is free to all community members and private businesses. Install it and let me know what you think!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

No Fools for Entrepreneur Summit Lookout

Recently, the Kauffman Foundation and the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) co-published an executive summary on their April 1, 2008 summit about entrepreneurship support programs.

They sought to address four questions:
  1. What are the core components of an effective entrepreneurship support program?
  2. What is the essential infrastructure of an entrepreneurship eco-system?
  3. What are new avenues for research?
  4. What steps should be taken next to facilitate high-growth entrepreneurs?

The results:

  1. They determined the programs should structure their services to address entrepreneurs core needs
  2. These needs are: a) relevant market knowledge; b) access to talent and capital; c) networks
  3. Research on the programs value would be useful
  4. Policymakers and stakeholders need greater awareness

Key components of an effective entrepreneurial support program should include:

  • a recognition that limited resources forces concentration on particular segments
  • structure to what the customer base needs
  • function as brokers in the community, building bridges

The value of the entrepreneurial support program depends on three features:

  • Ability to efficiently facilitate networks
  • Management of peer-to-peer and mentoring programs
  • Strength of program leadership

On the question of the entrepreneurial eco-system, the summit says that programs work best if they are part of a wider regional vision. The steps necessary to promote innovative entrepreneurship?

  • Engage in partnerships with key community stakeholders
  • Provide support in regulatory and business assistance
  • Cultivate human capital for workforce development
  • Facilitate access to capital
  • Promote the commercialization of invention
  • Create organizations as part of a wider regional vision

Location Confirmed for SST 2008

Things are moving forward with the South Sound Technology Conference to be held on November 21st, though many elements of the program still need to be solidified.

As of yesterday I received confirmation that we will be holding the conference for the first time in the new William W. Philip Hall, which will accommodate in the configuration requested up to 300 attendees. Now of course we have to fill it.

Current program notes.

Various community and educational leaders.

Right now this may cover "cloud computing" but may in fact be a local tech company presentation as well.

Panel: "Funding Innovation"
The intent is to have someone from the Tacoma Angel Network, the Washington Technology Center, A local financial institution and the small business association on the panel to talk about funding for projects.


Sagem Morpho is lined up to showcase their new facial recognition solution.

Panel: "Fostering Innovation"
The afternoon panel will be on Fostering Technological Innovation and will be moderated by Senator Jim Kastama of Puyallup.

There is at least one birds of a feather discussion following to cover reestablishing connections between our South Puget Sound technology companies as part of the South Sound Chapter of the WTIA.

As this is a work in progress, everything is subject to tweaking from week to week. However, when word comes in on the location, the program will be firmed up and the communication to potential attendees will heat up.

If you are interested in driving your own particular birds of a feather discussion let me know and I will post.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Danish Delegation visits Tacoma Business Incubator

Click for the full story at the Tacoma Weekly

Last week, a delegation from the Danish city of Vejle stopped in at the William M. Factory Small Business Incubator (WFSBI).  The WFSBI is a non-profit built around helping small businesses in the area thrive, and has an impressive record in helping local SMB clients toward long-term success.

Take a look at the story.  Of particular interest to readers of this blog would be the Danish organization's focus on information technology companies.

Until next time...

Michael O'Brien is a partner at Praece Strategic Technology Consulting, helping small and medium businesses align technology plans with business goals.