Category Business Model

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

CHEMISTRY

‘Artificial Leaf’ Successfully Produces Clean Gas

Using only sunlight, carbon dioxide and water, an ‘artificial leaf’ produces syngas, a molecule used in a wide variety of commodities and traditionally produced by fossil fuels. Scientists inspired by natural photosynthesis, are researching ways for this carbon neutral device to provide sustainable chemical and liquid fuel alternatives. [NANO MAG]

NUCLEAR POWER | ENERGY

Green, Nuclear, and Crowdfunded: One Startup’s Unconventional Route to Building a Novel Reactor

With three highly publicized accidents at nuclear power plants over the last few decades, public opinion has decidedly been against nuclear energy. But with the success of a crowdfunded campaign for its stable salt reactor, Moltex Energy is at the forefront of a changing attitude toward nuclear power that promises to be a more sustainable and safe alternative to traditional power sources. [FORTUNE]

LEADERSHIP

Team-Building Lessons from the British Army

Whether working on an internal start-up at a large company or building a new firm from scratch, entrepreneurship is a team sport. When it comes to managing teams and getting people to perform at their best, entrepreneurs can learn a lot from the British Army, which has almost 400 years of history to draw from and a personnel system designed to scale up and scale back teams quickly. [ENTREPRENEUR]

BUSINESS MODEL

Digital Transformation Should Start With Customers

The evidence is piling up that organization-wide digital transformation is challenging for many organizations. So where to start? If the three major options are operations, business models, and customer experience, why should companies address internal processes if they are at least adequate? And while changing business models can lead to substantial improvements in company valuations, it’s a heavy lift. That leaves the customer experience; here’s the case for starting there. [MIT SLOAN]

QUANTUM COMPUTING

Google Claims Quantum Computing Breakthrough

Google announced last week that their quantum processor, Sycamore, achieved “quantum supremacy,” a term-of-art which means quickly completing a calculation that a traditional supercomputer would need 10,000 years to solve. Google claims that Sycamore finished such a calculation in three minutes and 20 seconds. IBM, however, doesn’t think the calculation was all that challenging. [LA TIMES]

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In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

SCIENCE

The Future of Helium is Up in the Air

Helium is the second most abundant element in the universe, but what we have on Earth today is all we have: it’s is only created as a byproduct of the (very slow) underground decay of uranium and thorium, and we are experiencing a worldwide shortage. Everything from optical fibers and semiconductors to MRI imaging, airbags, and the Hadron Collider (start on page 7) will be profoundly affected. [SMITHSONIAN | ACS]

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

The Secrets of Machine Learning: Ten Things You Wish You Had Known Earlier to be More Effective at Data Analysis

A lengthy but in-depth look at the failures and successes of machine learning and how this information can be used to achieve higher quality, more valuable data science. [ARVIX]

TEAMWORK | MANAGEMENT

Small Teams of Scientists Have Fresher Ideas

“Big teams take the current frontier and exploit it,” says James Evans, a University of Chicago sociologist who studies the history of science. “They wring the towel. They get that last ounce of possibility out of yesterday’s ideas, faster than anyone else. But small teams fuel the future, generating ideas that, if they succeed, will be the source of big-team development.” R&D organizations should take note: small teams produce markedly more disruptive work than large ones. [ATLANTIC]

INTERNET OF THINGS | BUSINESS MODEL

How Does an Icebox Pay for a Data Plan?

While the widely circulated prediction of the world having 50 billion connected devices by 2020 has proven wildly optimistic, the IoT market continues to grow steadily. Many in the industry are betting that cellular IoT will be the winning connectivity choice, but provisioning is a challenge. As in many areas, the problem is not the technology, it’s the business model. [EETIMES]

AEROSPACE

NASA Captured Photos of Merging Supersonic Shock Waves

Supersonic shock waves are created when aircraft travel faster than the speed of sound. The air pressure can’t keep up with the speed of the aircraft, builds up, and results in a sonic boom. Recently, two U.S. Air Force craft were not only traveling faster than the speed of sound, but they were so close that their shockwaves merged and NASA was able to capture it on camera. [LIVE SCIENCE]

Read More

In the course of our research for clients, we come across emerging technologies, new materials, new chemistries, growing markets, changing regulatory landscapes, innovative business models, and much more. Every other Friday, we pick five articles, videos, or podcasts that we found interesting and send them your way.

NEUROSCIENCE | CREATIVITY

Drunk People Are Better at Creative Problem Solving

An interview with Professor Andrew Jarosz of Mississippi State University. He and colleagues served vodka-cranberry cocktails to 20 male subjects until their blood alcohol levels neared legal intoxication and then gave each a series of word association problems to solve. Not only did those who imbibed give more correct answers than a sober control group performing the same task, but they also arrived at solutions more quickly. The conclusion: drunk people are better at creative problem solving. [HBR]

CLIMATE SCIENCE

Maybe We Can Afford to Suck CO2 Out of the Sky After All

While avoiding the worst dangers of climate change will likely require sucking carbon dioxide out of the sky, prominent scientists have long dismissed such technologies as far too expensive. But a detailed new analysis published in early June in the journal Joule finds that direct air capture may be practical after all. The study concludes it would cost between $94 and $232 per ton of captured carbon dioxide if existing technologies were implemented on a commercial scale. [MIT Technology Review]

STRATEGY | INNOVATION

How “The Lean Startup” Turned Eric Ries Into an Unlikely Corporate Guru

Although The Lean Startup focused on . . . well . . . startups, Ries now believes innovation lurks in the bellies of even the stodgiest corporations. Ries’s second book, The Startup Way, published in October, focuses squarely on big companies, and this interesting profile reveals a lot of his thinking. Ries thinks that the trick for big companies is to stop thinking about their size: they need to form small groups devoted to the practice of innovation, and empower and protect them on a continual basis. [FORTUNE]

INNOVATION | ECONOMICS

“A Powerful Signal of Recessions” Has Wall Street’s Attention

Every recession of the past 60 years has been preceded by an inverted bond market yield curve (with only one false positive), and we’re moving rapidly toward another inversion right now. That means it’s a good time to think about how your company will react to the next downturn, particularly in an area most of us really care about: innovation. With that in mind, we’re revisiting this 2008 Forbes’ piece by Scott Anthony and Leslie Feinzaig, Innovating During a Recession. As they point out, during a downturn “[f]ocusing too much on the core business can lead companies smack dab into the roots of the innovator’s dilemma, where they get diminishing returns from investments while missing great growth opportunities emerging in the fringes of their markets or in completely new ones.. [NEW YORK TIMES | FORBES]

BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATION

Fast-Fine Dining Is the New Restaurant Frontier

Driven by a shrinking pool of workers, high labor costs, and high rent, the Bay Area is trying to optimize something new by replacing employee labor with customer labor: the fine dining industry. So what? This trend—finding creative ways to eliminate labor cost through business model innovation—is something you ought to be thinking about in your own business because it’s going to spread, first to high-cost cities and soon to lower cost areas. As this shift happens, opportunities are going to be created for companies in the supply chain to optimize the experience of fast-fine dining. And outside the restaurant supply chain the same thing is going to be happening: if you make things that wind up in the service sector, the world is going to be changing fast. Start planning now to get ahead of the emerging opportunities. [BON APPETITE | NEW YORK TIMES]

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