19 March 2013 | Leon Wong
Japan has an incredibly strong history of innovation. Yet the country too often starts out with dominant market share only to lose leadership as the pace of innovation quickens.
For example, its world market share of Lithium-ion Batteries (LiB) for mobile and portable devices declined ~60% in 19 years. Solar panels ~30% in 4 years. DRAMs ~55% in 15 years. DVD players ~70% in 9 years. LCDs ~80% in 7 years. Car navigation systems ~80% in 5 years. In none of these industries has any meaningful market share loss been recovered. Now, their world market share in Lithium-ion batteries (LiB) for vehicles has dropped ~20% in the past 5 years. While Japan’s share is still a robust ~80%, Japan’s track record forebodes an unhappy ending.
In light of this history, I recently attended the Battery Japan 2013 conference (part of Japan’s World Smart Energy Week 2013, which drew over 75,000 ...
15 November 2012 | Leon Wong
The Cleantech Open 2012 Global Forum, the spectacular “Academy Awards of Cleantech,” is one of the industry’s premier cleantech entrepreneurship events, drawing entrepreneurs, business leaders, government officials, and media from all over the world as both attendees and exhibitors.
I have been attending this event for the last few years and this year I was one of eight judges (from the investment, industry and academia communities) for the final round of the Air, Water, Waste category award. Eight startups presented and answered our questions in front of a live spectator audience. However, after the last company pitch, the audience and companies were shuffled out of the room while we deliberated on ranking the startups and choosing the winner. What happens in a judging room stays in the judging room. Seriously though, I have several key takeaways that will be useful for entrepreneurs in any industry.
Know your limitations
Specifically, knowing ...
8 March 2012 | Editor, on behalf of guest contributor
[guest contributor] This is a short version of the keynote speech delivered by Xerox Chairman and CEO Ursula Burns at the recent ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit 2012. Other keynote speakers at this event included Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy; Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States; Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Arun Majumdar, Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy; and others. PARC, which has participated in every ARPA-E Summit including this year’s event, presented its latest cleantech work at the ARPA-E Technology Showcase.
19 January 2012 | Scott Elrod
[contributed article to State of Green Business Report 2012] Technology adoption doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Someone at PARC once famously quoted, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it." When that concept is applied to cleantech – where the future is focused on deploying solutions at a massive scale, and where there is no Moore's Law for PV – I'd say the best way to predict the future is to "innovate" it.
30 November 2011 | Leon Wong
Billing itself as the world’s largest annual water quality exhibition, the 84th Annual Water Environment Federation Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC) draws 20,000 people from all over the world and has almost 1000 exhibitors. Because the show provided an opportunity to meet with a wide spectrum of wastewater players -- from utilities, corporations, manufacturer reps, and consultants to investors, analysts, and non-profits -- I wanted to share some of what I heard while showcasing our hydrodynamic separation (HDS) technology platform. Especially because I think the comments reflect the nature of innovation in the wastewater industry today.
15 September 2011 | Leon Wong
Many cleantech businesses -- despite their capabilities, technical advantages, and bankability -- are being forced into one price war after another, causing margins to erode, valuations to drop, and in some cases, businesses to close. An offering might be patented and have a unique design, but it may be a commodity. This is especially the case in cleantech, where the final end product is typically electricity, clean water, fuel, or light: a commodity. Commoditization happens. The key is discerning early warnings, and tackling commoditization through strategic innovation.
6 April 2011 | Scott Elrod
[contributed post to SmartPlanet] When PARC, a Xerox company, became an independent subsidiary in 2002, we were free to consider entirely new directions and industries. Cleantech was one of our first efforts to take the deep competencies and expertise we cultivated solely for Xerox, and apply them to problems and needs for other clients. But how did we align our idealistic motivations – concern for the environment, desire for impact – with commercial realities? Here are some of the strategies that helped us resolve conflicting goals and move from possibility, to reality... including knowing WHAT to start, and knowing WHEN to stop.
24 June 2010 | Serdar Uckun
Arguably, the all-electric powertrain will be the most significant disruption in automotive technology since Henry Ford introduced the first assembly line over 100 years ago. So far, the gasoline- (or diesel-) powered internal combustion engine has been a tremendous success despite its limited efficiency, particulate matter and CO2 emissions, complexity, and maintenance demands. An all-electric powertrain, however, would eliminate many common failure modes associated with internal combustion engines. The recent introduction of plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles have sparked a new wave of public interest and heightened expectations -- is it finally time for electric vehicles to displace the internal combustion engine for good?
7 April 2010 | Scott Elrod
[contributed article to EE Times] PARC was recently invited to present transformative ideas at an energy technology conference sponsored by ARPA-Energy, a new Energy Department agency charged with funding high-risk, high-payoff technology. The agency recently set a benchmark in government efficiency by reviewing 3,700 project proposals from across the U.S. in record time, ultimately funding 37. I’ve shared some of the innovative ideas I saw at the technology showcase in another post, but the key questions that persist are: Can the U.S. sustain an edge in clean technology? What clean tech technologies will win, and what’s needed to get us there? How can an industry focused on IT make the transition to a completely different technology and market: energy technology?
9 March 2010 | Scott Elrod
Organized by the the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy ("ARPA-E"), the inaugural Energy Innovation Summit that took place recently in D.C. brought together key players to spur the networks that will, according to the organizers, "bring about the next Industrial Revolution in clean energy technologies, in the way the U.S. has led previous revolutions in life sciences and information technology". Participants included venture capital investors, technology entrepreneurs, large and small corporations with an interest in clean energy technologies, scientific researchers, and policymakers/government officials. For a nerd like me, the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit was a candy shop. If you couldn't be there (or even if you were!), read on for what I consider the most noteworthy morsels from the event...
augmented reality big data business models cloud computing contextual intelligence DARPA disruptive innovation electric vehicles ethnography future of maufacturing government ideation and beyond information overload intellectual property intelligent automation location-based long tail malware manufacturing MVP (minimum viable product) open innovation PARC Forum portfolio management printed electronics reading list real options recommendation systems social search startups Steve Jobs twitter Wikipedia Xerox
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