When you are inspired, an idea can promote imagination, with resources that provide information to identify factors for inventing and inviting creative minds to the table to integrate their insights for implementing innovation.
There is not one single ingredient that brings innovation to fruition, but all of the components that formulate innovation should not be underestimated or devalued.
SPN Spaces is a new series that takes a look inside the region’s most inspiring startups, workspaces, incubators, accelerators and organizations.
Inside Mammel Hall on the south side of the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s campus is the Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising. The Center supports entrepreneurial education and collaboration, innovative hands-on learning experiences, as well as faculty research, conferences and mentorship. CIEF also provides advisory services to start-ups and small business entities throughout the region.
The CIEF website says the center serves as a bridge between the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and the diverse entrepreneurial community in the Omaha, Nebraska area. SPN dropped in on UNO’s Maverick Startups class led by Dr. Dale T. Eesley, Director and John Morgan Community Chair in Entrepreneurship to talk more about how the CIEF and UNO are preparing the region’s next wave of founders.
Center for Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Franchising at University of Nebraska at Omaha’s College of Business Administration
Lead by: Dr. Dale T. Eesley, Director & John Morgan Community Chair in Entrepreneurship
SPN: What classes and programs does UNO offer through the CIEF that are supporting the Silicon Prairie’s next generation of business founders?
DE: The CIEF at UNO’s College of Business Administration offers a wide range of entrepreneurial classes, all of which have a heavy applied focus. These include Entrepreneurial Foundations, Maverick Startups, New Venture Formation, Entrepreneurial Finance, Social Venturing, Entrepreneurial Selling, Commercializing Technology and Technology Ventures (IS&T students paired up with Business students in teams).
We also have a number of classes taught by faculty outside the College of Business Administration including Media Entrepreneurship, Geography, Gender & Entrepreneurship, Political Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship & the Arts, Entrepreneurship & Leadership in British Literature, and Creativity & Innovation in Organizations (taught by the Psychology department).
SPN: How are you emulating real-life business problems and experiences in the classroom?
DE: Classes such as Entrepreneurial Foundation and Social Venturing have hands-on projects where they apply their classroom learning to solve problems for local startups, businesses and non-profit organizations. In Maverick Startups students engage in customer discovery and validation with 50 potential customers using their own concepts and business models. New Venture Formation and Technology Ventures are classes where students work on their own business concepts and try to create new businesses or at least test their viability.
A new program we have started, the Maverick Venture Fund, trains 12 students a year on how to do seed-stage investing. After a semester of training, they make actual investments in student, alumni, and community startups. It doesn’t get any more real than that! By the way, if you are searching for funding, please apply to pitch your venture to the fund!
SPN: Do things like startup classes and entrepreneurial groups in college give students an advantage over their self-taught peers once they graduate?
DE: Our classes are very hands-on and applied classes always enhance students’ ability to understand and master the content, so it stays with them long after graduation. Our students have to venture “outside the building” and in so doing, they learn about the startup community in Omaha. So compared to the self-taught, they know where to go for advice, partners and funding when they are ready to launch a new company. Our graduates tend to stay in the Omaha area, so the connections they make through our classes have long-term benefits.
SPN: How are you teaching young entrepreneurs to look at their talents and skills (everything from music, to design, to athletics) differently?
DE: In our classes, we train students to think empathetically and to really understand their customers’ true needs. We do this by having them identify their interests and experiences and then identify an area in which they can contribute. We also use Gallup’s Builder Profile assessment to help them better understand how their talents can be used to create solutions. We emphasize the development of an entrepreneurial mindset that can be used for much more than starting a new venture. For example, our classes in Journalism, Political Science, Theater and Psychology apply entrepreneurial thinking and processes to topics far outside of business.
In the last two years, we have offered an Entrepreneurial Living Learning Community where freshman live together, take cohort classes, travel to places like Denver and Silicon Valley and engage in 30 hours of entrepreneurial activity each semester. This is an incredible way for them to explore their entrepreneurial interests and what they discover about themselves helps shape what they do and the way they do it throughout their college experience.
SPN: Every entrepreneur will experience at least one “small failure” in their career. What advice do you give students for when they inevitably face setbacks?
My best advice, and one we teach in our classes, is that the startup process is a search for information, and failures are really important pieces of information! By taking the steps to minimize the financial risk in the earliest stages, students will have the ability to fail fast multiple times while searching for the right business model. I also support students who start their careers working for others because it lets them build their skills, save money, and let their employers pay the price for their early mistakes. At the same time, if they have a great idea, I think now is the perfect time to go for it, before they are saddled with responsibilities and commitments we take on as older adults.
SPN: What CIEF events are coming up that will give the community a chance to get involved with the program and UNO?
The CIEF offers a lot of events and programs outside of the classroom to enhance their entrepreneurial development. We are always in search of judges, mentors, and sponsors for events such as:
We are particularly excited about this year’s Midwest Entrepreneurship Conference April 6 & 7. Over 400 people from Omaha and more than 25 universities will come together to learn from speakers that include billionaires, shark tank contestants and social entrepreneurs. There’s something for everybody and it is open to the public.
Pete Jansons, Vice President, New Business Group at CareerBuilder | HR Dive | original post January 30, 2018
Innovation is a word often associated with the Googles, Facebooks and Apples of the world. But while small businesses might not have the budget to take the risks that big businesses have, innovation is just as important to staying competitive, attracting customers and recruiting top talent. Coming up with new ideas, however, is easier said than done.
That’s where your employees come in. Together, they hold a wealth of hidden ideas just waiting to be unearthed. Here are seven ways to encourage innovation among your small business employees.
Make it okay to fail. Many employees are reluctant to submit ideas for fear that they will fail and look foolish. Make it clear that failure is okay. Take a cue from companies like Amazon, Netflix and Coca-Cola, and embrace the idea of failure. (After all, as JFK himself once said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”) Once your employees let go of their fear of failure, they will feel free to challenge old ways of thinking and bring new ideas to the table.
Reward risk-taking. Employee recognition is key to boosting morale, productivity and overall job satisfaction. But while it’s important to recognize employees for good performance, rewarding them for taking risks will give them incentive to think beyond the status quo. Consider a “risk-taker of the week” award to celebrate your employees’ daredevil spirits. You never know when great risk will lead to great reward.
Encourage off-site learning.Give employees opportunities to enhance their skills and learn new ones. Send them to conferences, seminars or off-site classes where they will not only build their expertise, but also meet new people and be exposed to new environments and different ideas.
Hold a hackathon. No longer just for tech companies, hackathons (or hack days) are days set aside to let employees take a break from business as usual and work on completely different projects. Even if the day doesn’t result in a new business venture, the day “off” will help rejuvenate employees mentally and can help spur ideas for approaching their daily work in new ways.
Create an idea submission hub. It may not be that your employees don’t have great ideas; it might be that they just don’t know what to do with them.Give employees an easily accessible method for submitting ideas – from creating a virtual “idea box” on your company’s intranet to an actual “old-fashioned” suggestion box. Make it a point to review these ideas monthly or quarterly, and act on the best ones.
Schedule time to innovate. Hold regular (perhaps monthly) team meetings where employees can submit ideas and build on others’ ideas. Create a “safe space” where every idea submitted is taken seriously, appreciated and considered.
Prevent burnout. Mental burnout can be a huge obstacle to innovation. Yet, CareerBuilder research shows that 3 in 5 small business employees feel burned out out at work. Make work-life balance a priority. Consider offering flexible schedules, redistributing workloads or bringing in temporary help.
Remember, innovation fosters innovation. The more you encourage and support new ideas and creative thinking at your company, the more it will become a part of your culture – one that attracts like-minded, creative candidates with new ideas of their own.
By Diamond Leung SportTechie | Originally published January 17, 2018
The NBA and Verizon announced on Wednesday the expansion of its content and technology partnership that includes the streaming of NBA League Pass games to Oath’s Yahoo Sports, enhanced Yahoo Fantasy experiences, and the development of augmented reality experiences on Verizon’s 5G network.
NBA League Pass brings live out-of-market games to Yahoo and other Verizon media platforms, with up to eight of those games available for a free preview along with a new daily show for fans to watch. With the new Official NBA Fantasy format, fans can start their fantasy season at any time and get customized fantasy highlight packages.
NBA content will be available to fans on any wireless carrier via Yahoo Sports.
“You’ll be able to sit and watch on your iPad and your phone,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said. “You’ll be able to have all your fantasy statistics right below it. You’ll be able to interact with the game. We put together a $25 million fund where we decide how we’re going to create innovative products.”
“Verizon is uniquely positioned to partner with the NBA in a first of-its-kind technology and content partnership that will serve the NBA’s dynamic fan base with more live action, fantasy and lifestyle content in addition to experiential opportunities in the U.S. and globally through Yahoo Fantasy,” Brian Angiolet, SVP, Global Chief Media and Content Officer at Verizon, said in a statement. “With the addition of live NBA games, highlights, classic footage, originals and more to our mobile sports offering, Yahoo Sports and Verizon’s family of media brands are becoming the first-screen for fans of live sports, and a superior alternative for partners and advertisers.”
Added Bill Koenig, NBA President, Global Content and Media Distribution: “This expanded partnership allows us to tap into Verizon’s expansive reach and new technologies to engage our fans through a variety of innovative experiences.”
Volkswagen Group is upping its commitment to developing and improving self-driving technology. So much in fact, that Volkswagen and dedicated firm, Aurora Innovation, announced a new strategic partnership where both companies will work closely together, on autonomous driving tech.
“Our vision is ‘Mobility for all, at the push of a button.’ This means that we want to offer mobility for all people around the world,” said Volkswagen Group’s Chief Digital Officer, Johann Jungwirth, in a statement. “Mobility also for children, elderly, sick and visually impaired people, really for all. ‘At the push of a button’ stands for simplicity and the easiness of use.”
“In the future, people can of course use our mobility app or digital virtual assistant to hail a self-driving electric vehicle to drive them conveniently door-to-door, or use our Volkswagen OneButton which has GPS, connectivity and a compass, as a small beautiful key fob with maximum convenience.”
The new collaboration hopes to accelerate Volkswagen Group’s development of Self-Driving System, or SDS, for the company’s future line of automobiles. The aim is to offer “Mobility-as-a-Service,” or a platform that offers drivers and Volkswagen customers a unified system and network that customizes individual experiences, offering other assistive services in tandem with autonomous driving. The duo also seeks to refine and improve current interfaces and aspects of connected driving app suites and autonomous driving technology, to make a world-class user experience for others to follow.
Volkswagen Group and Aurora have been working together more closely than ever over the past six months, integrating Aurora’s self-driving system with the German carmaker’s Machine Learning and AI technology. Future Volkswagen platforms will utilize Aurora’s system, including all sensors, hardware, and software. So that means like any other suppliers, Aurora will be responsible for self-driving VWs of the (hopefully) near future.
From there, the company envisions ways to utilize the platform, and whatever data collected from it, to improve traffic flow, reduce pollution, and traffic fatalities in urban and rural areas.
“Our priority at Aurora is to make self-driving cars a reality quickly, broadly and safely, and we know we will get there faster by partnering with innovative automakers like the Volkswagen Group,” said Aurora CEO Chris Urmson. “This partnership establishes a deep collaboration using Aurora’s self-driving technology, and together we will bring self-driving vehicles to market at scale.”
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are buzzwords that have entered the vernacular at many enterprises, but few have managed to realize the full benefits of the technologies. But 2018 may be the year that companies begin more strategic implementations and start realizing some of AI’s benefits.
“The percolation of AI and machine learning technologies into businesses still seems to be in its early stages, ranging over awareness that they need to collect data, to awareness that they already have a lot of data but are not making productive use of it, to rudimentary analyses of these data,” said Pradeep Ravikumar, Associate Professor, Machine Learning Department, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University.
AI will continue to be a fast-moving field in the coming year, and it’s critical for companies to have close contact and collaborations with those in the AI research community to stay on the cutting edge, Ravikumar said.
“From autonomous drones to AI-powered medical diagnostics, 2018 will see the needs of AI expand beyond research as companies bring these solutions to market,” said Julie Choi, head of marketing in the Artificial Intelligence Products Group at Intel. AI hardware will also need to adapt to new form factors, including low-power chips to support small smart home devices or drones, and more purpose-built hardware to speed the training process in data centers, Choi said.
Here are 10 predictions for how AI will grow and the challenges it will face in the enterprise this year.
1. More AI professionals will be hired
In efforts to realize the benefits of AI, companies will hire a variety of professionals to contribute, according to Alex Jaimes, head of R&D at DigitalOcean. Larger organizations may look to add a Chief AI Officer or other senior-level position who will guide how AI and machine learning can be integrated into the company’s existing products and strategy. Others may look at hire…Continue Reading
In its somewhat brief history, social media marketing has managed to become the optimal source for pushing brand identity and launching marketing campaigns. As more and more brands get on the bandwagon to establish their online presence, murmurs of social media marketing’s decline have also been shaping up in some quarters. Unfounded or not, the recent proliferation of fake news, fake profiles, daily outrage, political warfare, and privacy concerns have definitely dented the image of social media in the public eye. However, numbers tell a different story. Despite diminishing trust over certain issues and internet penetration still in its growth phase in India, Facebook users in the country crossed the 240 million mark in the middle of 2017.
In its somewhat brief history, social media marketing has managed to become the optimal source for pushing brand identity and launching marketing campaigns. As more and more brands get on the bandwagon to establish their online presence, murmurs of social media marketing’s decline have also been shaping up in some quarters. Unfounded or not, the recent proliferation of fake news, fake profiles, daily outrage, political warfare, and privacy concerns have definitely dented the image of social media in the public eye. However, numbers tell a different story. Despite diminishing trust over certain issues and internet penetration still in its growth phase in India, Facebook users in the country crossed the 240 million mark in the middle of 2017. Continue reading…