Ask Experts and Academics, not Entrepeneurs, for Input

Question:How do we work together to equip youth with the right skills for the future economy?
on 07/08/2016







Entrepreneurs make toys that provide little social benefit and require little creativity in order to generate revenue. Academics, scientist, and other specialist create tools upon which those entrepreneurs can build (often, if not always, by using open source mechanisms without providing credit). Indeed, the internet itself was created not by "entrepreneurs," but by academics working in conjunction with public institutions. Do we want a thousand companies trying to be the next Facebook or do we want a thousand research projects building quantum computers?

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Daren Swanson by Daren Swanson

Maybe the definition of "Entrepreneur" has to be reviewed.  I do find there are many people who call themselves entrepreneurs who do not truly create anything at all or offer services - but not all merely make toys.  I am an engineer and prefer referring to myself as an inventor rather than an entrepreneur (I invented and patented a method to make nanodiamond from detonating carbon dioxide mixtures).  And ironically, my technology can be used for quantum computing.

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Christopher Bush by Christopher Bush

Bob, I think the key to this is creating an environment where we can get ALL the brains, eyes and voices in one place. Academics can get lost in their heads, and often novel solutions/technologies are developed that the industry has no use for. An applies sciences "Super Cluster" as proposed by ISED can overcome this. Imagine  place where industry can come and tell their problem/threats/opportunities to teams of scientists/academics and entrepreneurs. Then have all the tools available, in an open source theatre, to build solutions. "This is what we need, this is what we got, and this is where we need to go." Pain to solution! 

Check out a program called NISP Canada. They run a dating service of sorts, and have the matchmaking tools. They are doing an intro/launch webinar on the 20th and the 3rd of August.  

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Andre Sobolewski by Andre Sobolewski

Let me play the devil's advocate to argue for entrepreneurs and against academics. Entrepreneurs can make profitable baubles, but they can also make beneficial innovations. Think Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. What separates them from academics is that the entrepreneur is willing to take a risk and drive hard to bring his/her vision about. The academic or scientist, whose salaries are covered by an institution, are more risk-averse and, as a consequence, not as driven. The enormous discomfort from risking to lose everything engages you more fully and drives you much more compared with the person who is unwilling to expose themselves to this discomfort. In my experience, such drive and engagement are necessary to bring innovation to life.

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C. Andre Beltempo by C. Andre Beltempo

I think this article from the New Atlantis sums up the problem very well. It's a long read, but I cannot recommend it enough:

It is important that we recognize a few things about science though - pursuit of knowledge for its own ends is not actually of utility. The argument that in the pursuit we will develop new things is only partly true - in the end, someone had to take the physical principle, concept, whatever, and bring it to the market. When there was low-hanging fruit - i.e. you could cobble together a steam engine or make a vaccine with rudimentary equipment, then it was pretty easy to get incredible, visible results very quickly - but that's not the case most of the time anymore. Most of the time, the bigger, systemic, highly engineered things require a lot of risk and failure to work at all. Think aerospace, think nuclear, think computers, think the electrical grid.

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