Excubate: How Crowd Collaboration Can Professionalize New Business Technology Development

To help increase the chances for successful innovation in the marketplace, this talk will expand beyond the problems typically discussed with open innovation and offer a new entrepreneurial investment model. The discussion reviews and critiques ten existing models of creating and turning innovations into new companies. For instance, innovation cultures exist in self-funded and venture-funded entrepreneurial organizations, in universities, and in large research labs. What are the various strengths and weaknesses of the existing models for innovation development? We will discuss ways that startups are often cobbled by limited perspective and resources. They can be limited by current trends in funding, limitations of team experience, technology concerns, and inadequate market information. At academic institutions, opportunities for taking innovations forward can be limited by the academic stance and by project continuity. And large companies tend to be limited by the expectations of product managers and by current revenue streams. In consideration of the problems of current innovation models, the presentation will offer a model called a “generator fund”: a new entrepreneurial investment model which can increase innovation's chances for success. A generator fund starts with an internal team of experienced inventors and researchers who choose several technology ideas to develop into prototypes and test for performance. Two to four times a year, a board then selects a prototype for an “excubate” -- a process in which prototype products are shared with aspiring entrepreneurs in a series of mentored competitions designed to develop teams, test the market, and improve the prototypes’ technology. The three-step incented competition also provides opportunities to develop customers and create a plan to attract acquisition or venture funding. Ted Selker manages Research on Accessible Voting at University of California Berkeley Ted spent 5 years as director of Considerate Systems research at Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley. He was also responsible for developing the campus’s research mission, teaching HCI, Android product design, and research concerning disabilities technology development for voting. He is well known as a creator and tester of new scenarios for working with computing systems and has a design practice that includes speaking engagements, innovation workshops and engagements in large companies and engagements in startups. He is CTO of Foldimate for which he made a shirt-folding robot this year. Ted spent ten years as an associate Professor at the MIT Media Laboratory where he created the Context Aware Computing group, co-directed the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project, and directed a CI/IDI: kitchen of the future/ product design of the future project. His work is noted for creating demonstrations of a more considerate world in which intentions are recognized and respected in complex domains, such as kitchens, cars, on phones and in email. Ted’s work takes the form of prototyping concept products supported by cognitive science research. His successes at targeted product creation and enhancement earned him the role of IBM Fellow and director of User Systems Ergonomics Research. He has also served as a consulting professor at Stanford University, taught at Hampshire, University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Brown Universities and worked at Xerox PARC and Atari Research Labs. Ted's innovation has been responsible for profitable and award winning products ranging from notebook computers to operating systems. For example, his design of the TrackPoint in-keyboard pointing device is used in many notebook computers; his visualizations have made impacts ranging from improving the performance of the PowerPC to usability OS/2 ThinkPad setup to Google maps, his adaptive help system has been the basis of products as well. Ted’s work has resulted in numerous awards, patents, and papers and has often been featured in the press. Ted was co-recipient of the Computer Science Policy Leader Award for Scientific American 50 in 2004, the American Association for People with Disabilities Thomas Paine Award for his work on voting technology in 2006 and the Telluride Tech fest award in 2008.