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Welcome to the WISE newsletter, a program of
The Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University
 

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

FUSE 2006: Technology, Talent & Capital

Officially the focus of FUSE 2006, held in Syracuse, was "Accelerating Technology-Enabled Business Growth"; however, its seems like the words "technology, talent and capital" were more appropriate. FUSE 2006 brought together business executives, industry experts, and leaders from research, public sector, non-profit and higher education to talk about innovation, business & economic growth, collaboration and new technologies.

There were several technology areas discussed, but perhaps more important than specific technologies were the ideas around innovation.
  • The rate and pace of commodization has accelerated. Companies must innovate in order to stay relevant.
  • Innovation is not just invention. It may mean innovating how a company operates, not just what it makes.
  • Companies benefit from bringing in ideas from outside its "four walls" in order to spark or hasten innovation.
  • Patents were mentioned as inhibiting collaboration, yet it is collaboration that businesses need in order to work smarter and faster.
  • One question posed is whether innovation is a value or a means.
Dr. Kenan Sahin, CEO of TIAX LLC, was emphatic about our older workers being valuable talent. He sees older workers as having the knowledge and capacity to move ideas forward.

He noted -- in talking about youth -- that at events like these, there average age is often 52. If we believe that younger workers are important to our future, why are they not at the "table"?

There was also discussion on tools that our talent (workers) need. Our workers are changing how businesses think about and use technology.

Of course, capital -- money -- is important. Investors, though, want to invest in winners. As someone noted, where are the "rainy day" bankers? Where are the investors who will back an idea whose path is not golden?

FUSE began on Tuesday evening at the Whitman School of Management with a reception then an evening session. It continued on Wednesday at the OnCenter with a full day schedule. By mid-afternoon, you could sense that people were becoming overwhelmed with information and -- perhaps -- their own thoughts on the topics at hand. Ending earlier in the day (maybe by 3 p.m.?) with a real facilitated discussion would have allowed those bubbling ideas, questions and concerns to get out on the table. It might have been useful to have been able to engage Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll in a dialogue -- along with Nancy Cantor (SU's chancellor) ,
Kenan Sahin and David Ahlers (Founding Co-Principal, Cayuga Venture Funds) -- about technology, talent and capital.

Finally, although there were several hundred people at the event, it stood out that the audience might have been 20 - 25% female. Women are involved in technology and in innovation, but this conference did not attract them. Why didn't more women attend? Was it the cost, the topics, or the speakers? Whatever the reason, I hope the FUSE organizers figure it out and ensure that more women are involved in this conversation next year.

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