October 18, 2010
In my first post about last weeks EUREKA financing innovation lunch in the European Parliament, I made the point that things seemed to be confused. But that wasn’t the whole story.
On my table I was fortunate to sit next to an Israeli gentleman. Lets call him Harry, since it is his name.
I made a point of asking him a couple of questions about how and why Israel seems to be considered so highly in terms of innovation – both policy and reality. He provided a very clear answer:
We do it faster!
If it comes to winning or losing, he felt that one of their big secrets is that they simply get on with it and do things quickly. When things go wrong, as they do, they learn their lessons and move on. If things are successful, they do their best to scale up quickly. It all seems so simple, but often the best lessons are.
He had a second strategy though, and this is a little more technical.
Behind this strategy lies a fundamental belief: we all are good at what we are good at and generally do not understand other vital elements of the world. In other words…
Finance people don’t understand science.
Scientists don’t understand finance and business.
These are broad generalisations I know. He and Israel know that too. But they are actually trying to do something about it.
Harry is actually Dr Harry Yuklea and he lectures at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His area is entrepreneurship and he tries to bridge this gap. His courses are designed to help scientists understand a little about business and finance, answering questions like, “Why do I need money and when?” and “Why does money cost money?”
The aim is to ensure that as products are being developed, the marketing and financing are not afterthoughts, but integral parts of the development.
Israeli universities each have a ‘Technology Transfer Unit’ whose aim is to bring ideas, money and businesspeople together to quickly push forward the ideas with merit. In many of these universities, these units actually make a profit!
Others at the table suggested that European universities have such units. Though the idea seems to be patchy at best (I am just taking what I heard – I claim no expertise in this area!).
It seems as though this may be an area in which Europe can make some progress. At innovation events, the message is often that things are ok and moving forwards.
Perhaps this is one area in which real gains can be made. Not just in making universities connect ideas, business and money, but in targeting them to make a profit as well. That is the essence of a real result. It is tangible and positive investment returns generate new seed capital – every time.financialguy