All Posts By

Claire Lebedeff


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Relationships are essential for open innovation. When looking for new technologies, personal connections with universities, startup havens or incubators can give your firm a competitve edge.

But what happens when, as a technology scout, you need to branch out and build new relationships? When the innovations your firm needs to be competitive are being developed outside of your network – and maybe even by people who live thousands of miles away?

Online platforms like LinkedIn and seedsprint are great tools for tech scouts who need to grow their networks, including in other countries. One region where your firm should consider looking for new partners? Scandinavia.

Scandinavia: A Burgeoning Startup Scene

Some leading technology companies with ample resources are already looking to Scandinavian startups and universities for partnerships. For example, Facebook recently acquired the Swedish AI company Ozlo.

Meanwhile, venture capital firms are expanding their activity in the region. The venture firm byFounders recently announced its 100 million euro fund focused on Nordic founders. Northzone also focuses on Scandinavian startups.

The different countries in the region all put their own twist on startup culture. Copenhagen has been making headlines recently for its startup scene. Denmark boasts over 400 technology companies, and breakout companies like Zendesk and Skype got started there.

Observers note that early-stage capital is starting to become more accessible Denmark; in the past, many companies have chosen to leave the country in pursuit of funding in the United States and elsewhere. The oft-used hashtag #CPHFTW (Copenhagen for the Win) relfects the enthusiasm about startup life in this futuristic city.

Nearby, Sweden’s largest technology startups haven, Stockholm, is also faring well. A recent WIRED UKarticle profiles some notable startups based in the region, such as Detectify (cybersecurity) and Watty(smart home/energy). The concentration of startups in Sweden is higher than in the United States, at a whopping 20 startups per 1,000 employees (versus 5:1,000 in the US).

Smaller countries like Norway and even Iceland also have startup communities, which have the benefit of being intimate and “tight-knit” comparied to larger countries’ ecosystems. Icelandic Startups is a center for startup activity in the small capital city of Reykjavik – and you can even split your day between networking and the nearby Blue Lagoon.

Approaching Scandinavian Startups and Universities

How can corporate tech scouts start to build relationships with Scandinavian startups and universities?

One key way could be to speak with venture capital firms that already have established networks in the region. The venture firm byFounders recently announced a 100 million euro fund focused on Nordic founders. Northzone is another such VC.

There are also growing in-person events that showcase the region’s startups and spinoffs. The amusingly named Slush in Helsinki, Techstars Stockholm events, and Ignite’s corporate-startup matchmaking sessions are a good place to start.

For busy open innovation teams, an in-person trip to Scandinavia may not be a smart use of resources. That’s why we allow high quality, research-based startups from all around the world to share their collaboration goals with our technology scout subscribers on seedsprint.

There are thousands startup havens, incubators and universities worldwide which may have the solution your firm is seeking. Scandinavian firms should be on your list. #OpenInnovationFTW.

We’re bringing the conference floor online. If you are a corporate tech scout, request a demo today to learn more about the startups on our invite-only network.

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Self-driving car technology has everyone in a frenzy.

Recently, a journalist raved about the MIT spinoff iSee: “Finally, a driverless car with some common sense.”

This tongue-in-cheek appraisal reveals something about the intensity that currently sourrounds autonomous driving tech. There is so much activity in the space, but does anyone really have the common sense and know-how to make fully autonomous cars happen?

Almost every other day, a major automotive or tech company takes a major step towards putting self-driving cars on the road. Will they become mainstream in 2019, 2021, or 2025? Every company offers a different target, but all sound ambitious to the average driver.

Those outside the industry may wonder whether the bold claims are realistic, given the relative immaturity of autonomous vehicle technology. After all, the general public only started hearing about self-driving cars a few years ago.

Is it possible for self-driving cars to possess genuine common sense – especially enough to avert serious tragedy?

Open innovation and mobility

seedsprint promotes industry partnerships for science-based startups, and we are bullish on self-driving cars.

The reason we are so optimistic is that we understand the power of open innovation. Open innovation is a process through which established corporations help new technologies succeed, by licensing or otherwise incorporating intellectual property from outside the corporation’s walls. Open innovation has made an impact on many industries, and it’s becoming a powerful force in mobility.

The pursuit of self-driving car technology is being defined by aggressive, purposeful open innovation – and for that reason, we look forward to safe, successful autonomous driving in the near future.

A snapshot of recent partnerships with self-driving car startups

These days automotive conferences and tech communities are abuzz with talk of self-driving car partnerships. The laundry list of partnerships in the autonomous driving space is exhausting to read. A recent graphic from earlier this year (credit to Ptolemus Consulting) paints a picture in logos.

Countless closed-door meetings are taking place between big players (such as BMW, Ford, Uber) and newer autonomy companies (such as and Luminar). What do established car companies and leading tech companies stand to gain from working with brand new startup and researcher teams?

Recode offers this concise thesis. “As the hype around driverless cars grew, so did the demand for teams with backgrounds in AI and machine learning — both relatively nascent fields. Even the biggest tech companies, namely Uber, were left wanting.”

Established companies need insight into niche, sophisticated software problems. In exchange, they are providing critical resources to startups with great ideas for how to build the self-driving future. The support corporations can provide includes funding, in kind resources, market access, and more. (Read more about how companies help seedsprint members scale up.)

Seeking smart partnerships

What do these new partnerships look like?

Startup teams may opt to join forces with the large companies instead of going it alone. As a 2016 Fortune article mentions, GM acquired a company for $1B that didn’t even have a product on the market yet.

Some startups are also staying independent and using partnerships to help them scale up, by hiring more staff, tackling tricky problems, and testing their technology on the road. One example of this is JingChi, one of the many startups that has received recent investment from software company Nvidia. The Chinese self-driving car startup plans to use Nvidia’s investment to scale up R&D and make more hires in the United States.

Avoiding partnership potholes

The momentum around autonomy is undeniable. But successful partnerships require compromise and a great deal of thoughtful negotiation.

Smart startups understand how much established players need their technology – and seek to understand their perspective. Corporations, academia, and startups have notorioulsy different cultures. What can be done to forge great partnerships and keep them strong?

According to self-driving car startup Aurora, a “trusting and respectful relationship on both sides” is essential. “The goal for Aurora… is to get self-driving cars on the road as quickly as possible and do that safely and thoughtfully and do it through partnership with the folks that can help us,” said the company’s CEO in a recent interview.

Network, network, network

Researchers and startups should rise to meet the challenge of autonomy – and take the big players up on their offer of resources. As long corporations continue to put a high premium on self-driving car innovation, this new industry is going to blow past everyone’s expectations.

Are you a researcher, self-driving car startup or corporate tech scout? Sign up for a seedsprint account to contact innovative companies on the seedsprint network.

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“New technologies can provide solutions to the challenges the world faces today.” – David Aikman, Chief Representative Officer, Greater China, World Economic Forum

Organizations such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), with access to a network of experts, can help the innovation community identify high-potential startups and technology breakthroughs.

Every year, the World Economic Forum releases a list of Technology Pioneers – startups that are highly original and poised to shake up an industry or two. The competition is judged by leaders from both science and business, and the winning startups tend to be exceptional.

These young companies are very much the kind of development partners that innovative corporate subscribers seek out on seedsprint.

For that reason, we’re saying thank you to WEF for recognizing these startups. Let’s take a deeper look into what makes this year’s crop of Technology Pioneers so notable.

What Makes a Tech Pioneer? Diverse Emerging Technology Startups

This year’s list of winners is highly diversified, and they cover those technologies that are center stage for industry’s open innovation professional. The startups span artificial intelligence and synthetic biology, aiming to tackle profound challenge for energy, healthcare, communications and manufacturing applications, ranging from markets for automobiles to diagnostics to silicon wafer and beyond.

More than anything else, these emerging technology startups are well positioned to influence legacy companies. These young companies all shares a combination of high quality science-based IP and a hunger to succeed, and it’s no wonder the WEF judges are convinced of the impact these winners will have.

Service Innovation: Connected Health and Privacy

Some of the Technology Pioneers deliver step-change improvements in service industries, such as healthcare, food service, and cybersecurity.

Take World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Augmedix. The founder noticed that the rise of electronic patients’ records can cause doctors to waste time entering data during patient visits, which can sour the patient experience. Augmedix wants to equip doctors with smart glasses, through which “a team of real-time, quality controlled, and customized remote scribes” can hear and record patient data, freeing up the doctor for hands-on nad personalized care.

Understandably, privacy and security issues crop up in any health-connected discussion. Fortunately, many young companies are actively developing technology solutions in tandem with “smart” devices to deliver consumers the privacy, security and peace of mind they deserve.

Another innovative young technology company Onfido, is moving to commercialize a background check procedure that provides privacy and security assurance for companies which rely on the ability to verify remote users and workers. For example, they are currently working with TaskRabbit, and food-delivery company HelloFresh.

Another example of leading-edge security technology in the Tech Pioneer class is Deep Instinct, a predictive solution which uses machine learning to counter cyberattacks. There is enormous potential for startups in this space, with cybersecurity being the second most pressing concern cited, according to a recent PwC event survey.

Energy, IOT and the Blockchain

Traditionally, electric power generation and distribution have relied on a top-down, centralized model: the conventional electric utility. From deregulation and the rise of independent power producers, to the increasingly common usage of solar panels, new models of energy production and distribution are emerging.

Several WEF Tech Pioneers are to working to improve upon or upend the traditional model. Blockchain energy company, Electron, is among them. This UK-based startup is looking to put blockchain-based trading tools in the hands of energy producers of all kinds, from households with solar panels to large traditional producers to in order to increase efficiency and security in the energy space.

A European company with a taste for distributed energy is Berlin-based Mobisol. Energy poverty limits economic and social opportunity for over 1.1 billion people, according to the United Nations Foundation. Mobisol provides low cost solar power systems to places where the traditional electric grid is unreliable or nonexistent. Drone delivery is in the works, which could give the company an edge in hard-to-reach markets.

Energy and operating efficiency generally go hand in hand. Konux an industrial IoT company, located in Munich, uses sensors and AI-based analytics to help companies keep operations efficient.

Industrial IoT is mainstream, used by giants such as GE and other major companies to reflect their embrace of this powerful technology. The potential benefits of connecting physical objects via the internet has led to a proliferation of startups in the space. This nod from WEF may help Konux to stand out in the fray.

What’s next?

As companies applying for these awards know, there’s nothing more rewarding than having a team of global leaders in science and business tell you you’re on the right track.

For those that win major awards, sweep up a seed round, or join a competitive accelerator, the effect as is similar: validation spurs growth.

WEF winners are an inspiration to all of us. seedsprint works to get emerging technology startups in front of established companies with valuable resources. Those companies in turn can provide young companies with scale-up insights and specialized equipment, customer access, and the deep market knowledge that can make a vital difference for commercialization.

Interested in joining the seedsprint community and meeting your next technology partner?

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Without funding, even the best ideas can’t scale up.

Back in 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was passed to facilitate funding innovation in the United States. On the JOBS Act’s 5th anniversary, we wanted to explore two of its major areas of focus: small company IPOs and crowdfunding.

Going Public in the United States

One part of the JOBS Act was intended to facilitate IPOs, but five years later it seems that measuring its impact on IPOs is far from straightforward.

On the whole, IPOs in the United States trended downward in the years after the JOBs Act was passed, with the average number of IPOs per year in the United States hitting a 7-year low in 2016. Experts typically do not cite the JOBs Act when discussing the factors of the IPO drought, which include an active mergers and acquisitions market, events like Brexit and the US election, and a public skeptical of sky-high tech valuations. A surge in IPO activity in Q1 2017 has this year pulling ahead of 2016, a revival that experts at EY credit to the post-election market rally.

According to Joseph Hall, a former Managing Executive at the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission, the JOBS Act has made the steps to becoming a public company simpler, but expressed doubt that it had any major impacts on overall IPO levels.

“I think if a company was ready to go public, they were [already] a good candidate… the JOBS Act came along [and] made that a little bit easier,” Hall stated in an interview with the Financial Executives Research Foundation in early 2017.

That answer seems unsatisfying – shouldn’t the JOBs Act have had some kind of effect?

The JOBs Act and Small Company IPOs

The answer is that it has – but the impact is mainly related to Title IV, the provision that helps small companies file for an IPO more easily. The impact is focused on small company IPOs versus traditional IPOs, rather than on overarching IPO trends.

The JOBs Act provided a mechanism, Regulation A+, allowing small companies to pursue “mini-IPOs” – raising up to $50 million from the general public. In August 2017, the division of economic and risk analysis at the Securities and Exchange Commission published a report that indicated the Regulation A offerings jumped significantly in the 18 months after the new rules went into force.

The number A+ offerings relative to traditional IPOs has grown.

No company needs to IPO just for the sake of it. With industry collaboration platforms like seedsprint, emerging technologies may find themselves find themselves partnering with existing companies that help them scale. But the more possibilities that are out there to support tech companies, the better.

And small company IPOs aren’t the area where the JOBs Act has had an impact.

A New Funding Strategy for Startups: Equity Crowdfunding

The more pronounced impact of the JOBS Act seems to be on equity crowdfunding, a much-hyped approach to financing new technology in its earliest stages.

Though the Jobs Act was signed in 2012, its crowdfunding provisions (Title III: Regulation Crowdfunding) did not take effect until May 16, 2016. This part of JOBS Act allows ordinary Americans making less than $200,000 a year ($300,000 for married couples) – the ability to invest directly in the equity of a startup. The Act also authorized the use of third party portals for this kind of crowdfunding.

Even before the JOBS Act made it possible for this type of investor to take equity, “family and friends investors” had purchased billions of equity in US technology companies. Equity investing may now tempt even more first-time or small-scale investors.

Crowdfunding Versus Venture Capital

What will happen to traditional venture capital as crowdfunding expands?

Eileen Burbidge, from VC Firm Passion Capital, says that she is glad the ecosystem is getting larger – but that traditional VCs won’t suffer as a result. When Reuters asked Burbidge if she saw equity crowdfunding pulling business away from VC firms, she responded, “I don’t think so… the whole pie is growing bigger. We’re seeing more people start businesses, more innovation, more opportunities.”

There is disagreement on this count; reporters at both Forbes and TechCrunch have published articles predicting that VC firm could become destabilized by the rise of crowdfunding, as their funders pivot to direct investment via new crowdfunding platforms.

According to some, growth in crowdfunding is related to the decentralization of startups, beyond traditional hubs like Silicon Valley – where VC firms thrive.

“[Startup] proliferation has been global whilst the innovative companies and venture investors remained local,” writes TechCrunch. This implies that equity crowdfunding may come to serve innovators who have trouble securing venture capital in today’s tech ecosystem.

The Fate of Equity Investing

No matter its impact on VC as a whole, democratization of startup funding is likely to make a big difference for certain startups.

New technology drives the seedsprint community, and so changes to new funding approaches like crowdfunding are always of interest.

There may be cases where equity investing and crowdfunding can give a small company enough runway to tweak their technology, develop a proof of concept, or gather data – successes that they can then present to a major investor or corporate partner.

Both small company IPOs and equity crowdfunding unlock new possibilities for fundraising. Data shows us that the JOBS Act is having an impact on emerging technology companies.


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From the legislature to the lab, patent law seems to be on everyone’s mind.

When the America Invents Act (AIA) was passed in 2011, it marked the most dramatic change to patent law in the United States since 1952. This change gave the patent filing process new life – but also shifted the calculus for inventors seeking to control their intellectual property.

To understand patent best practices for startups the United States under AIA, it’s important to understand the concepts of ‘first to invent’ versus ‘first to file.’

‘First to file’

In the past, when a US innovator applied for a patent, he or she had to prove they were the first to invent their creation. The AIA changed this. The new ‘first to file’ system guarantees that the first person to file a patent is able stake a claim on the innovation – regardless of any evidence contesting that person’s leadership on the claimed invention.

Understandably, AIA made a splash in the university research and startup community. Under ‘first to file’, inventors worried they might lose control of their technology if they spoke in public about an invention before filing a patent. The risk increases with time, which is a problem if the inventor still needs to fundraise in order to finance the patent filing process.

Timing Patents for Startups and Inventors

The natural question that stems from this: What are patent best practices for startups and inventors?

Experts were originally concerned about two potential impacts of ‘first to file’. One of those expected due to AIA was that innovators would wait a long time to file a patent until after they had raised money from investors. This would open innovators up to risk as more and more people learned about their invention before they had gained exclusive rights to it.

Additionally, delays in filing would cause problems for the seedsprint community, whose technology scout and technology profiles alike rely on unique intellectual property. Startups and researchers must be able to communicate with potential partners about their new technologies, without fear of repercussions.

Is there an alternative to this heightened risk? There is: moving quickly.

In a 2013 conversation with WIRED Jonathan Withrow, a partner at intellectual property law firm Rankin, Hill & Clark, said that many innovators are more likely to rush to file patents than wait, as ‘first to file’ increases the pressure to file a patent application.

Yet rushing to file a patent can cause problems. It takes time for researchers or startup founders to decide how to optimize development and commercialization of a new technology. If a patent is filed before a technology has found its proper market fit, this can lead to problems down the road.

With these two scenarios in mind, and inventor might ask: When is the right time to apply for a patent?

Patent Law Best Practice for Startups: Don’t Delay

Despite the risks of poor market fit, there is consensus among intellectual property attorneys and startup advisors. Most experts agree: It’s better to file for a patent sooner rather than later.

Investing in an attorney and rushing the process a bit is better than risking your idea altogether. Experts encourage innovators to file for patent, even before the inventor has fully researched the future product’s market viability. Waiting too long is just too big a risk to take.

UC Berkeley intellectual property law professor Robert Barr cautions that filing a patent too soon can be a financial burden and an uncertain bet. Nonetheless, he also encourages inventors to file early rather than risk losing rights to their idea.

recent study out of Harvard Business School paints an even starker picture. For each year that a startup delays in filing a patent, the study found, employment and sales growth falls by 21-28%.

With these findings in mind, inventors must consider the roadmap for technology transfer and/or commercialization before filing. However, they must also recognize that it is possible to lose out on opportunities by delaying a patent.

The Future of ‘First to File’

Will ‘first to file’ stay on the books?

Given how common it is worldwide, it’s very likely that ‘first to file’ is here to stay. The world’s major economies had already adopted this system by the time AIA came into force in the U.S. While possible, it seem pretty improbable that the U.S. would move to harmonize patent application filing with the rest of the world only to switch back again.

Are you developing a technology that has commercial applications? Think the resources of an industry partner might help speed it up? The seedsprint platform is a secure, free tool to help researchers, licensing professionals and entrepreneurs bring their inventions to market through industry collaboration.


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Culture, Collaboration and Rise of Technology Innovation Districts

We all know that technology has changed how we work, but it’s also changing the physical landscape of work. Shared and co-working offices are no longer found just at the funky fringe, and urban centers are becoming more connected than ever. Some cities are capitalizing on this shift with “innovation districts”: a model that encourages multiple organizations to form a hub for innovation and collaboration.

Universities, corporations, and startups all stand to benefit from this new approach to work and urban planning.

How can a startup, university or corporation join a great innovation district and help make their innovation district successful?

Technology Innovation Districts

An innovation district is zone within a city that is home to a cluster of related actors: co-working and incubators, startups, academic institutions, industry, and government offices.

Startups and corporations take note: innovation districts are becoming popular in urban planning circles. Some city governments or anchor organizations, like universities, are looking to attract young companies to get districts started quickly. For companies, districts can be a boon for networking and relationship building. For cities, innovation districts can spark economic growth and diversification – and even improve quality of life for workers.

These districts are popping up around the world in cities that want to achieve better synchronicity between work and their citizens’ daily lives. They are meant to bring housing, public transportation, the arts, and commerce closer together. The idea is that physical proximity is key to building new relationships: research says that successful innovation districts usually feature no more than a ten minute walk between two points within the district.

Measuring Impact of Innovation Districts

Cities realize that there’s huge value in helping startups and corporations make the right connections at the right time. In a way, we see seedsprint as a virtual innovation district, where companies can form strategic relationships and bring new technology to market. That’s why we’re following the innovation district trend closely as it plays out in cities around the world.

The work of Julie Wagner, with the Brookings Institution’s Centennial Scholar Initiative, is an excellent resource on the innovation district trend. Wagner and her team determined the five key components are required to develop an attractive, sustainable and economically viable innovation district.

1.) Critical Mass

Much of the success of an innovation district has to do with the diversity and density of a site’s assets. Even though co-working is even becoming popular in the suburbs, a metropolitan area might be the better choice for an innovation district, since density is higher and interactions between groups are easier to facilitate. Wagner cites Oklahoma City as an example of a city with sufficient density in its downtown district. Density of population and employment increase the chances for a district’s successful launch and growth.

2.) Competitive Advantage

Another key factor is the future district’s competitive advantage, the building blocks of which typically relate to knowledge creation – particularly emerging technologies. Recognition for achievement in specific fields, e.g., within life science, software development, or rapid manufacturing, can be an important driver of growth. The ability to commercialize new knowledge is a key test of a district’s strengths.

3.) Quality of Place

How is the quality of life in the district? Does the culture of the district attract more assets to the surrounding community? If you want to gauge whether a district fits the bill, look into the Bass Initiative’s research on the qualities of great places.

4.) Diversity & Inclusion

Innovation districts build upon an existing population zone, and it is essential to engage with the residents who pre-date the district. While potential economic opportunity is attractive, it needs to be introduced thoughtfully and inclusively. Strong local buy-in can foster new commercial relationships with merchants and service providers, enriching the whole ecosystem.

5.) Culture & Collaboration

Ultimately, innovation districts are all about culture and collaboration. To work well, a district must be a multi-dimensional place where people can find each other easily and build things together – such as new technology, businesses, events, or a cultural landscape. Productive innovation districts encourage workers to learn outside their immediate circles and work across disciplines.

When all five of Wagner’s criteria are met, these districts facilitate networking, innovation and relationship-building. Even with favorable conditions and the right mix of assets, innovation districts need to be nurtured by the organizations that occupy them and by their host cities. (Read what one Paste writer had to say about the bustling Seaport innovation district in Boston.)

It may be a challenge to form a successful district, but the rewards seem to be worth the effort. Startups, research universities, and industry are all positioned to benefit from the rise of innovation districts – and today, more and more of them are making the leap.


seedsprint is a platform that connects corporations to new technologies and startups – like an innovation district you can access from anywhere in the world. Create a free profile or request a demo today.

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What do Stephen Hawking, the United States Government, and the Big Five tech companies all have in common? A stake in the rapidly expanding market of artificial intelligence.

Hawking’s interest in AI is ideological, based out of concern for the way AI could shape the future. He believes we should be wary of artificial intelligence, calling for staunch regulations and ethics around all AI growth.

While in some ways Hawking’s warning reads like the newest installment of The Terminator, he has a point. We see the United States Government and the Big Five hastily investing their money in a market that is predicted to grow by 300% in 2017. It begs the question: how can we predict the future AI, and how can ethics keep up with such a quickly growing sector?

Investment in AI isn’t constrained by these questions. Below, a portrait of how AI investment has played out in recent years.

The United States Government and AI

In many respects, artificial intelligence is already playing a big role in our world. In fact, the U.S. government has been investing in AI technology for over fifty years. However, it wasn’t until the end of the Obama administration that Washington, D.C. stepped up their game. From 2015–2016, the federal government spent an estimated 2.3 billion on artificial intelligence research – more than in any other period before.

In May 2016 a subcommittee created the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan.

The plan, based on high-level research, is a blueprint for how AI can make American life easier. It envisions a role for AI in efficient national security, and it imagines a future of collaboration between humans and AI.

Silicon Valley Titans

Also influencing the industry are the private investors, lead predominantly by the Big Five: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc. is a leader in AI research. Alphabet is responsible for Google Brain, a research team designed to ‘make machines intelligent [and] improve people’s lives.” Alphabet also purchased DeepThought Technologies, which was speculated to cost between $400 million to $650 million.

Then there is Microsoft Ventures, a VC firm created by Microsoft in January 2016 dedicated solely to AI. Microsoft states that the funds for investment are exclusively for “companies focused on inclusive growth and positive impact on society.”

Microsoft Ventures has already funded three start-ups since its inception, and has yet to declare how much they have spent.

Apple, renowned for its innovation just as much as its secrecy, is estimated to have invested between $150-$250 million for the Siri Virtual Assistant technology. Additionally, Apple released its first paper based on their AI research in December of 2016.

While this move towards disclosure was refreshing, its speculated that Apple’s secrecy makes it difficult for them to recruit the most promising minds in the field, and is ultimately hurting them in the battle for AI market supremacy.

Amazon AI, like its competitors, has yet to officially state how much they invest. However, its virtual assistant technology Alexa is already extremely competitive. Amazon AI also decided to take a different approach towards funding research, creating the Alexa Fund Fellowship. The fund allows Amazon to partner with universities, providing money and access to the Alexa technology in order to work with the next generation of AI scholars. The Alexa Fund Fellows is already working with students at USC, Carnegie Melon, University of Waterloo, and Johns Hopkins University.

Finally, Facebook. Facebook has not disclosed how much they spend on their investments, regardless the company is determined to dominate this market. Facebook hired a team of 150 who work exclusively on AI technologies and already uses artificial intelligence on their site. They have face recognition software as well as technology that matches a user’s interests with the news on their homepage. According to FastCompany, Facebook tripled their investment in artificial intelligence research since June of 2016.

Working Together on the Future of Artificial Intelligence

The AI race is well underway in the United States with Silicon Valley titans dominating the industry. However, AI research isn’t only about competition. In 2016 The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society was created. The organization is a non-profit founded by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon. The Partnership funds AI research, but its primary goal is to become a tool to educate the public on artificial intelligence. The non-profit promotes researching this technology with transparency and ethics, or thematic pillars, as the organization calls them. As of January 2017 not only did Apple join the project, but the organization also partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union, Open AI, the MacArthur Foundation, the Peterson Institute of International Economics, Arizona State University and the University of California, Berkeley.

From the White House to the robotics lab, each institution investing in AI seems to be concerned with ethical research practices. A consideration that might lay Hawking’s reservations to rest, however the fact remains that AI research, and growth, is still unregulated. It is yet to be seen how the Big Five will keep themselves accountable, even with a non-profit backed by unbiased organizations like the ACLU. In terms of the market, if the pattern persists we will see private industry continue to lead the research while the government might be left having to call on Silicon Valley for support. For now, it’s still a little too soon to tell, but perhaps in a few years we’ll be asking Siri or Alexa what to expect next in this ever-expanding industry.


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The landscape of technology transfer has changed a lot over the past 30+ years as evident with the Milken Report. Back when the Bayh-Dole Act was signed, licensing was the focus But, so much more than that has happened. Check out our infographic below on what’s happened since 1980. From license numbers to the amount of active stratups and down to the top ranking universities (by licensing revenue).


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The way in which Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) are measured and evaluated is not consistent. Typing this into Google will result in roughly 60,000 hits but from opening a few of the publications it is clear that there is not a clear ranking system. However, the Milken Institute recently published its findings in a report titled The Best Universities for Technology Transfer.

What I appreciate about this report is the use of an index as opposed to others is the use of an index. It is not perfect, but on the right path to looking at the overall output holistically as opposed to more traditional metrics i.e. licensing income because that metric does not necessarily show the true success of an office.


Milken looks at the following criteria:

This index takes into account averages and the average per number of researchers, which helps level the playing field in terms of output by unit (PI) and shows smaller yet equally productive research institutions. This approach of evaluation shows just how much the world of technology transfer is changing and that even in the institutional context, there is adaptation. Traditional income is still a larger percentage than IP issued, but equal to startups formed. This shift in importance on startups is relatively new. You see that many institutions have in recent years created innovation centers or dedicated specialized resources towards to development (and success) of university spin-outs because of the widespread benefits.

It is commonly known that the majority of TTOs operate in the red. By weighting performance differently, offices are able to demonstrate their efficacy in more ways i.e. number of jobs created. Having a reputable report use this metric certainly confirms the importance of university activity – that universities are huge economic drivers. The more jobs created, more products available to benefit society, more innovation – all prove why funding (financially or otherwise) are imperative.

What do you think about this index system? Tell us in the comments below!



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Industry partners can accelerate market entry for technology startups.

Unlike a venture captial raise, industry partnerships offer in kind resources: commercial scale-up experience, knowledge of the industry or market, regulatory expertise, access to critical first customer relationships – the list goes on.

If you are a deep tech startup, may not need any convincing about the benefits of industry collaboration – you want to know how to find the right partner and negotiate a good deal.

Here are five important things to do that can help you impress industry tech scouts and forge that make-or-break partnership.

1. Make a partner profile

Tech scouts are often bombarded with technology offerings and exciting new inventions.

If you send them another densely written, five-page technology and business description, with ten pages of back-up slides, it may not have the desired effect. We’re heard this complaint from tech scouts many times – that’s why seedsprint helps startups build tech scout-friendly partner profiles that you can send to tech scouts in our database.

Be merciless with editing text. Make your message lean and mean and get it on one page – two max! No one has the time to read through lots of text, especially if they’re not yet sure about the potential fit.

Stick to bullet points whenever possible and make liberal use of tables, graphs and images.

2. Convey your value

The most effective way to get a tech scout’s attention is to give them specific examples of how your technology provides unique value over existing solutions.

Use an attention grabber – a simple statement that impresses and supports why your technology/company deserves a deeper look. Within the constraints of non-confidential information, don’t be afraid to get technical about what makes your technology so valuable and unique.

3. Stay one step ahead

As soon as a tech scout becomes interested in your technology, they will want to know if there are any “dealbreakers” that make working with you impossible.

Get every potential roadblock out in the open. Some tech scouts only work with technologies at a certain development stage, so share details like proof-of-concepts, lab results, and other market-readiness.

Note any regulatory requirements that need to be met, if any, to bring your technology to market.

State achieved milestones nice and loud, including any funding or awards received and any important publications. They are great proof of your commitment and help validate your concept and business model. Boast a little – it’s part of the fun.

4. Protect your IP

Trust is a very important part of every successful partnership, but at the same time you need to make sure that your IP is properly protected. Although you might want to get into granular detail about why your technology is so disruptive, never divulge anything you wouldn’t want a competitor to know.

Never disclose any confidential information before your prospective partner signs an NDA.

If you’re affiliated with an institution, ask the Technology Transfer Office if they have a ready-to-go form, or download our free form of mutual (two-way) NDA to be used with prospective partners.

5. Be strategic with outreach

Tech scouts come in all stripes, but it is often very hard to get in touch with them. Use any common point of connection you have, shared contacts via LinkedIn, industry associations, academic connections and so forth. seedsprint is a free online tool for emerging technologies that allows your organization to make a private profile and message technology scouts directly.

Any questions about how seedsprint can help you forge great industry partnerships? Just drop us a note or sign up below.

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