Crowd wisdom: User-centric innovation


Published on

This report was prepared by BT Group with the help of the Economist Intelligence Unit. We would like to thank Tom Standage, Iain Scott, James Watson, Penny Jones, Siobhan Chapman and David Binning of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Thanks also goes to Rodolfo Lara and Matthias Lüfkens at the World Economic Forum; and Gary Shainberg and Simon Dux at BT. Designed by Michelle Young. Art from Getty Images.
The Technology Pioneers programme is run by the World Economic Forum with guidance from BT, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Accel Partners. BT Group Chief Technology Officer, Matt Bross would like to recognise and thank these two strategic partners.

Published in: Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Crowd wisdom: User-centric innovation

  1. 1. Crowd wisdom:user-centric innovationThe World Economic Forum’sTechnology Pioneers 2008
  2. 2. BT is one of the world’s leading providers ofcommunications solutions and services operatingin 170 countries. Its principal activities includenetworked IT services; local, national andinternational telecommunications services;higher-value broadband and internet productsand services and converged fixed/mobile productsand services. BT consists principally of four lines ofbusiness: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retailand BT Wholesale.In the year ended 31 March 2007, BT Group plc’srevenue was £20,223 million with profit beforetaxation of £2,484 million.
  3. 3. Contents Preface 2 Foreword 3 Crowd wisdom 4 Technology Pioneers 200811 Acknowledgements 32Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  4. 4. PrefaceIn line with its commitment to improving the state Innovation, and we are confident that theof the world, the World Economic Forum has created Technology Pioneers are at the forefront of boththe Technology Pioneers Community. Technology collaboration and innovation.Pioneers are companies from around the worldthat develop and apply the most innovative and The Forum is pleased to congratulate the 39transformational technologies companies selected asin the fields of information Technology Pioneers 2008technology, energy and on their truly remarkableenvironment, and biotechnology achievements and welcomeand health. The work undertaken them to the community of theby these companies holds World Economic Forum.the promise of significantlyaffecting the way business and We would also like to expresssociety operate. Each innovation our thanks and appreciation tois another step in society’s the members of the selectionattempt to harness, adapt and committee whose enthusiasmuse technology to change and and expertise were criticalimprove our world. in selecting the impressive group of Technology Pioneers featured in this publication.This year the World Economic Forum received arecord number of applications from companies Finally, the Forum would like to thank BT for thearound the world to become a Technology Pioneer. content and publication of this report and for theirFrom a highly competitive field, we are extremely strong ongoing commitment to the Technologypleased to have a community that is using innovation Pioneers programme.and technology in a markedly collaborative mannerto dramatically affect the way society and business Andre Schneideroperate. The theme of the World Economic Forum Managing Director and Chief Operations OfficerAnnual Meeting 2008 is The Power of Collaborative World Economic Forum Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  5. 5. ForewordGlobalisation and technology are accelerating the networks because they form an integral part of BT’screation of new ideas and speeding them on their open innovation strategy. It is through innovationway to market. Today these ideas and concepts networks that many companies can minimise theare triggering a new cycle of innovation. The result dangers of becoming over-aligned to one viewis an explosion of creativity that shows no sign of of the future, a single market segment, or to onecoming to an end. I call this industry structure.phenomenon the InnovationBig Bang. The Technology Pioneers are at the heart of this emerging globalTo survive and thrive in this new innovation marketplace.environment, companies needboth deep skills to lead and BT is committed to being ainterpret the opportunities in strategic partner of the Worldtheir innovation networks, but Economic Forum’s Technologyalso broad and flexible skills to Pioneers programme because theengage with customer needs, technological innovation shownassimilate new capabilities and by these visionary companiesexecute. demonstrates the real potential for a sustained impactThe window of opportunity across business and societyfor a new product or service globally. Previous Technologyinnovation to carve out an Pioneers have includedappreciable marketshare has Autonomy, Cambridge Siliconcollapsed from years or months Radio, Google, Millenniumto weeks or even days. Pharmaceuticals, Mozilla and Sling Media.Invention is not enough. As far as customers areconcerned, genuine innovation happens only when This year’s Technology Pioneers were nominated bytheir daily lives actually get better or their firms leading venture capital and technology companiesachieve greater success as a result. from around the world. The final selection was made by a panel of leading technology experts appointedThe Innovation Big Bang increases the stakes. To by the World Economic Forum.ensure their competitiveness is sustainable anddifferentiable in the long term, firms must now look The depth, breadth and diversity of the innovationwell beyond the limits of their own RD departments represented by this year’s Technology Pioneersand indeed their own payrolls. The world is full of delivers a wellspring of collaborative innovationpeople who are keen to offer their ideas, and firms opportunities for any organisation choosing to dowill need to become exceptional exploiters of this business with them.immense pool of talent if they are to survive. Matt BrossThat’s why, in my role as innovation champion Chief Technology Officerfor BT, I am committed to fostering innovation BT GroupCrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  6. 6. Crowd wisdom:user-centric innovationCustomers are proving to be a useful and growing source of innovation globally S IT a bold and promising new approach to each other. But it is also a recognition by companies innovation, or just the application of new that their customers constitute a valuable supply buzzwords to existing practices? The idea of of ideas, manpower, skills and information. The old involving customers directly in the development model, in which a company develops a product andand deployment of new products and services, then puts it on the market for customers to buy, hasvariously known as “user-centric innovation”, given way in many cases to a new model in which“outside innovation”, “mass collaboration”, customers participate in the development of new“wikinomics” or “crowdsourcing”, certainly sounds products, and help to create, improve, distribute andnovel. In some ways, however, it is not that different promote them. Companies generally have far morein practice from established practices such as open- customers than they do employees, after all, so whysource software development, in which volunteer not make use of their input?programmers collaborate over the internet, or theeven older practice of designing new products that A classic example, cited by Eric von Hippel, atake into account the wishes of particularly guru of user-centric innovation and the author ofdemanding customers. And even Scottish Democratizing Innovation , is that of the Lego Group,philosopher Adam Smith praised workmen Europe’s largest toymaker, and its Mindstormswho developed “easier and readier” product. This combined Lego’s usual snap-togethertools for their own use, noting that many plastic bricks with a special control unit into whichmachines involved in early industrial simple programs could be downloaded from aprocesses were invented by end- computer, thus making possible the constructionusers who improved upon earlier of robots and other complex models. Theversions. software inside the Mindstorms brick was developed over a period of many months byBut what is certainly new is that a small team of Lego engineers. Withincompanies are now recognising three weeks of the original product’sthat customers can play a release in 1998, however, an internetvaluable role in devising user group had reverse-engineered theand distributing new ideas software and written their own, more— and are taking a greater efficient version. The user group quicklyinterest in tapping into a source amassed hundreds of members — farof inspiration and innovation outnumbering Lego’s original teamthat may only have been used of programmers. At first the companyinformally and occasionally in the was unsure how to respond, but eventuallypast. This is bringing into being new it decided to embrace the contributions ofproducts and services, by distributing its customers, opening up its products fortasks among large groups, exploiting further customisation and including theirlarge data sets and economies of scale, ideas in subsequent versions of Mindstorms.and harnessing the enthusiasm of The number of potential innovators outsidevolunteers, enthusiasts and tinkerers. the company, its managers realised, was far greater than the number within theMuch of this has been made possible the internet, of course, and itsfamed ability to allow groups of There are many other cases. Haier,people with a shared interest, no China’s leading manufacturermatter how obscure, to connect with of household appliances, found Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  7. 7. that some of its customers were using its washing innovation in a number of fields, as this year’smachines to clean vegetables as well as clothes, so it Technology Pioneers demonstrate.made new models with wider outlet pipes to preventthem from getting clogged up with bits of peel. Look it up on WikipediaBoeing and Airbus design new airliners after holding Perhaps the single best example is the Wikimediadetailed discussions with their main customers, Foundation, the organisation behind Wikipedia,and also work closely with their own suppliers of the open-source, user-generated encyclopedia,machine tools on the design of new production gear. and several other related projects. The basic ideaManufacturers of sports equipment, from mountain of Wikipedia is that of an encyclopedia in whichbikes to snowboards, have learned to pay attention every page is a wiki — a web page with an “edit this page” button. This“The number of potential innovators outside allows any reader to add to, correct and interlinkLego was far greater than the number within...” the encyclopedia’s entries. (“Wiki” is a Hawaiian wordto the ways in which advanced users customise their that means “fast”, since the wiki-based approach toproducts. One survey found that 38% of members of creating and editing web pages is much faster thanspecialised “extreme” sports clubs had developed or using traditional authoring software.) Launchedmodified their own equipment, for example. These in January 2001, Wikipedia had 20,000 entries in“lead users” can provide valuable ideas -— what Dr English by the end of that year, 100,000 a year later,von Hippel calls a “product feedstock” — for future and then grew rapidly, amassing over 2m entries bymodels. October 2007 and making it the largest encyclopedia ever compiled.Manufacturers and users each have access todifferent information, which prompts them to Wikipedia is arguably the most impressive item ofinnovate in different ways. In the case of scientific “user-generated content” on the internet, not onlyinstruments, for example, users tend to modify because of its size, but also because of its accuracy.them in order to get them to do entirely new things, Studies have shown that although its entries vary inwhereas manufacturers’ innovations tend to be quality and contain errors, the frequency of errorsabout making existing products easier to use, is comparable to that of traditional encyclopedias.more convenient, or more reliable. In general, Dr When an expert in a particular subject spots avon Hippel points out, manufacturers tend to look mistake in a Wikipedia entry, it is, after all, a simplefor problems that can be solved using whatever matter to correct it. Inevitably, some entries (suchtechnologies they have to hand (a new material, an as those on Islam and George W Bush) have becomeimproved process, and so on), whereas users tend the focus of controversy and conflict, so that itto look for new solutions to problems they really has become necessary to restrict the editing ofneed to solve. That makes user-driven innovations some entries to prevent vandalism. But rather thanmore valuable and, studies suggest, more profitable being an indication of the weakness of Wikipedia’sas well when harnessed by manufacturers. And approach, this could be seen as a measure of itseven when they are not directly involved in the success and influence. Look up almost anythingdevelopment of a new product, users can play a using a search engine, and the correspondingvaluable role in improving and deploying it, and Wikipedia entry will usually be at or near the top oftheir willingness to get involved is, once again, a the list of results.recognition of the product’s appeal and value. Theinvolvement of users in various ways now underpins The wiki-based approach has inspired a host ofCrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  8. 8. other related projects in which the users directly a small radius, but it provides authorised access toparticipate in the creation and development of other Foneros as well as its owner. The owner, in turn,intellectual property. The basic idea is “many gets free coverage when in range of another Fonero’shands make light work”; useful things can be done base station. BT, the UK’s main telecoms operator,by sharing out tasks among a large community recently joined forces with FON and has invited itsof internet users and aggregating the results. 3m broadband customers to become Foneros. It joinsThis has also been called “wikinomics” and other major operators such as Time Warner Cable,“crowdsourcing” and has much in common with the Neuf Cegetel and BB Excite. Non-Foneros can useWeb 2.0 movement, which involves harnessing the the FON network by paying a small fee, with a smallcontributions of users, both in creating content and commission going to the Fonero through whose basehelping others to navigate it. One popular way to do station this fee is collected. The result, says FON, isthis is to allow users of a website to apply keywords the largest Wi-Fi community in the world — builtor “tags” to items of content such as video clips and operated by and for its own users.(YouTube), blog postings and news items (Digg,Reddit) or photographs (Flickr). This provides a This won’t hurt a bitflexible, bottom-up way of arranging and navigating It is hardly surprising that the internet is central tothrough large amounts of information. many examples of user-centric innovation. But that does not mean that the same sort of approach doesPolar Rose, a start-up based in Malmo, Sweden, not apply in other fields. It is not just programmersis applying the crowdsourcing approach to who like to build their own tools; the same is truephotographs with a particular aim: to create a visual of doctors, and surgeons in particular. They oftenindex of images of people on the internet. Whenever face problems that can be solved by inventing a newits users, called “explorers”, see photographs of device or customising or improving upon an old one,people on the internet, they have the option of and their direct practical experience gives themadding a tag giving the name of the person shown. insights that a theoretical researcher at a medical-As more and more images are tagged, two things instrument manufacturer simply would not have. One survey of surgeons carried out in Germany found that 22% had devised or“The internet is central to many modified an item of medical equipmentexamples of user-centric innovation...” for their own use, and that around one- half of these innovations ended up beingbecome possible: users can use the Polar Rose adopted by medical-equipment makers. The firstbrowser plug-in to ask “who is this” (a small rose icon heart-lung machine, for example, was developed byis added to tagged photos) and can search for images John Gibbon, a Philadelphia surgeon, and his team incontaining a particular person. As with Wikipedia, 1953, and was subsequently commercialised.the users of the service also help to build it. The CyberKnife, invented by John Adler of StanfordFON is a Spanish start-up with a novel approach to University and now commercialised by his company,building a free wireless network: get the network’s Accuray, based in Sunnyvale, California, follows inusers to do it, granting them free access in return for the same tradition. During a fellowship in Sweden,sharing their own Wi-Fi access. Members of the FON Dr Adler was inspired when he saw a device called acommunity, who are known as “Foneros”, install a Gamma Knife, developed by Lars Leksell, a SwedishWi-Fi base station called “La Fonera”. This functions surgeon. This used 3-D imaging to deliver finelylike an ordinary Wi-Fi base station, providing wireless targeted bursts of radiation to destroy otherwiseaccess to a broadband internet connection within inaccessible brain lesions, but required the patient Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  9. 9. to be held perfectly still using a system of restraints can then find out about their ancestry, their inheritedscrewed into the skull. Dr Adler set out to improve traits, and whether they are at risk of developingon this approach and devised the CyberKnife, which particular diseases. Several other companies offeruses robotic technology to monitor and compensate similar services, all of them based on genetic analysisfor the patient’s movement during treatment. In using “gene chips”, rather than the full sequencingaddition, the CyberKnife can be used to treat hard- of each customer’s genome — something that is stillto-reach lesions in other parts of the body, not just prohibitively expensive. 23andMe’s analysis, whichthe brain. In keeping with the tradition of user-led looks at around 600,000 regions in the genomeinnovation in medical technology, Accuray has set where the most important variations betweenup an online forum to allow surgeons to share their individuals are found, costs US$999; sequencing aexperiences, offer advice to each other and, in full genome would cost US$1m-2m, although thisthe process, steer the development of subsequent figure is expected to fall a thousand-fold withinversions of the product. the next decade. What 23andMe adds, however, are social-networking features akin to those onAs well as developing new tools and techniques, Facebook or MySpace, allowing userssurgeons are also well placed to develop new to contact other people withmedical devices and implants. Joshua Ben-Nun, an whom they share ancestors orexperienced Israeli eye surgeon, has developed a genetic risk factors. Accordingnew kind of lens implant for use in treating cataracts to the company’s founders,(the gradual yellowing and clouding of the lens by pooling the genetic datathat causes loss of vision). The usual treatment is to from thousands of usersremove the lens and to replace it with an artificial while maintaining personalimplant. But such implants have no ability to focus, privacy, it will eventuallyso that the patient ends up with excellent long- become possible todistance vision, but must use glasses for reading. perform new kinds ofOne way around this problem is to use a multifocal research and enablelens implant, with concentric, alternating rings that users to take part infocus on near and distant objects. But these lenses scientific studies. Andcan cause problems with night vision. Dr Ben-Nun’s as medicine becomescompany, NuLens, is one of several firms pursuing a increasingly “personalised”,new “accommodative” lens that can refocus just as a and new drugs emerge that onlynatural lens does, by changing its shape. His design is work well on a specific subset ofbased on a flexible capsule of silicon gel that bulges the population, it will be possiblein response to movement of existing eye muscles. for cancer patients, for example,It has been successfully tested in monkeys, and the to identify which treatment is bestfirst human trials are now under way. for them.The latest twist on user-centric innovation in bio- Plugging into thescience comes from 23andMe, a start-up based innovation gridin California’s Silicon Valley. The company, which What of the field of energy? It istakes its name from the 23 pairs of chromosomes hard to imagine how users can drivethat make up an individual’s genome, is a “personal innovation in such a capital-intensivegenetics” outfit that provides detailed analysis of its industry, even working together. Andcustomers’ genomes from a saliva sample. By looking yet they can. For instance, the Toyotaup the results on the company’s website, customers Prius, an iconic petrol-electric hybrid car,Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  10. 10. captures energy usually lost during braking and If more power is suddenly needed, it can then beuses it to power the vehicle at low speeds, such as in borrowed back again, flowing out of the batteriesstop-start traffic, and to provide occasional bursts and back onto the grid. Once there are significantof acceleration when needed, thus boosting the numbers of electric (or plug-in hybrid-electric)car’s fuel economy. This is all very clever, but for cars in circulation, a useful proportion of them willsome Prius drivers it is simply not green enough. So be plugged in at any one time. Rather than simplythey have modified their vehicles by fitting them being users of electricity, in short, consumers couldwith extra batteries and new control software. This soon be involved in generating and storing it, ingives the modified Prius a range of 20 miles or so on partnership with utilities.all-electric power; the petrol engine only kicks in onlonger journeys, or at highway speeds. (A standard All of this will require new “smart grid” technologiesPrius, in contrast, can travel less than a mile on such as those developed by GridPoint, a start-upbattery power alone.) The modified version can be based in Washington, DC. It has devised an internet-charged from the mains overnight, so that anyone based control system that gives utilities centralisedwith a short commute can use it as a control of power sources, energy-storage capacitypure electric vehicle. Toyota was initially and even individual appliances on customers’sceptical about this “plug-in hybrid” premises. This allows a power company to draw onapproach. The company thinks the excess power from solar panels on its customers’simplicity of the original Prius, which roofs when needed, for example, or turn downnever has to be plugged in, has air-conditioning units to reduce demandgreater consumer appeal. But when necessary. Customers can see whatfaced by the groundswell among is going on via a website. Smarter gridsits most enthusiastic customers that allow utilities to balance supply andas they modified their vehicles, it demand more easily will pave the way forhas conceded that plug-in hybrids much wider adoption of alternative-energymight make sense after all, and is sources by their customers. Similarly,now developing its own version, due SilverSpring Networks, based in Redwoodin 2010. City, California, has developed smart electricity meters that enable customersConsumers are also becoming more to take an active role in managinginfluential as utility companies look their energy consumption. A two-for new ways to generate electricity way network connection with theand manage demand. One meter, based on internet standards,increasingly popular allows utilities to implement dynamicapproach is to allow homes pricing and enables consumers toand offices that generate regulate demand accordingly. Atheir own electricity (from washing machine, for example, couldsolar panels or wind turbines) be set to come on when the electricityto sell excess power back to price falls below a certain level. Asthe grid when needed. Another standards for smart grids start toproposal is that the batteries of emerge, they could underpin aelectric cars could, in effect, be pooled to bottom-up revolution in energyprovide utilities with a vast energy-storage technology, just as the rise of internetsystem. When the cars are plugged in, energy standards has unleashed so muchis dumped into their batteries from the grid. innovation in computing. Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  11. 11. Following the user, the user, the user developers kept such tools to themselves. But theyHow can companies best exploit user-centric have now realised the value of enabling users toinnovation? Dr von Hippel suggests three possible modify and extend their products. In some cases,responses. The first, and simplest, is to adopt these user-generated add-ons are adopted by theuser-developed innovations and produce them original manufacturer and become products in theircommercially, in some cases in co-operation with the own right. A good example is “Counter-Strike”, ausers responsible for the innovations. If advanced counter-terrorism combat simulator, which wasusers of a particular product are modifying it in a created by enthusiasts who modified an existing game called “Half Life”. Such was“Attempting to discourage lead users from the popularity of “Counter-Strike” that it was eventually released asinnovating can be counter-productive...” a separate title. This broadened access to the game, since thereparticular way, it makes sense for the manufacturer was no longer any need to apply software patchesto adopt their suggestions and offer the modified to “Half Life”, a fiddly process that put some peopleproduct to a wider customer base, as they are off. Providing tools for users is, in some ways, thelikely to have similar needs. Companies can opposite of what companies are used to doing.gain competitive advantage by doing this more Rather than trying to anticipate the needs of theirefficiently than their rivals, perhaps by forming customers, they are in effect giving up and simplyclose links with their lead users; attempting to letting the users do what they like. But this can be adiscourage lead users from modifying products rich source of new ideas.(in other words, innovating) can be counter-productive. A variation of this approach is to offer Third, companies can acknowledge user innovationscustom-manufacturing services to advanced users, by selling complementary products or services.which can be beneficial to both parties. Users can Many computer-makers, for example, sell machinestake advantage of high-quality manufacturing that are designed to run Linux, an open-sourcetechniques, and manufacturers can learn and benefit operating system developed and maintained by itsfrom the designs cooked up by their customers. users. They do not profit from the software, but fromThreadless, for example, is an online T-shirt firm the demand it creates for hardware. Similarly, manythat invites internet users to upload T-shirt designs, software companies have developed commercialvote for their favourites and order them to wear. products, such as database programs, that runEach week’s winning design wins a cash prize and on top of Linux. And a host of firms have sprungprompts thousands of sales. The suggestion by the up to provide consulting and support services forcompany’s founders that this approach could work Linux and other open-source products. They arein the car industry seems far-fetched, given the long thus capitalising, albeit indirectly, on user-drivenlead-times involved, but it could probably work for innovation. Some software companies operatesurfboards or customised mobile phones. “hybrid” open-source models in which they make part, but not all, of their products freely available.The second approach companies can take is to make Apple does this with its Mac OS X operating system,life easier for would-be user innovators, by offering for example, the basic underpinnings of whichdesign tools or other platforms for their use. Many are available as an open-source project calledcomputer games, for example, now ship with special Darwin. This allows the company to benefit fromlevel-design software that enables gamers to design improvements to Darwin made by volunteers, whilenew levels and accessories for the game, which are retaining the ability to charge for the full version ofoften distributed on the internet. Traditionally, game its operating system, in which Darwin is overlaid withCrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  12. 12. an advanced graphical interface. Apple also includes proteins associated with particular diseases. As onemany popular pieces of open-source software with researcher in the field points out, people aroundits Macintosh computers. It thus benefits from the the world play billions of hours of Solitaire on theirinnovation that goes into those products, while computers each year; building the Panama Canal, byhelping to encourage their adoption. comparison, took just 20m man-hours.Although some aspects of it have been around Searching for new drugs by getting volunteers tofor years, it is still early days for the user-centric play a computer game? It sounds daft. But the ideainnovation model, and surprising examples of it of an encyclopedia written by its own readers, andcontinue to emerge. And while it is true that much becoming the largest and most comprehensiveof the action is currently in software, the same work of its kind, would have seemed outlandish aprinciples and ideas are increasingly being applied decade ago. Of course, user-centric innovation isin other fields in unexpected ways. It might seem not for everyone, and works better in some fieldshard to imagine how user-driven innovation could be than others. That is the nature of innovation: asapplied in the pharmaceuticals industry, given the with Sudoku, the popular Japanese number-huge costs and regulatory hurdles associated placing puzzle, there is no single winningwith developing new drugs. How can you strategy that works, and success depends onpossibly trust users to do it? But even here combining a number of strategies. User-there are innovative approaches emerging centric innovation is just one more tool infrom the undergrowth: one is a new the innovation toolbox. But even foronline game, akin to a three-dimensional companies that cannot find a wayversion of Tetris, in which players race to embrace this new approach, itto fit molecules together. As players provides a valuable lesson: that goodcompete, they are actually working their ideas can, and increasingly do, comeway through a library of drug candidates, from unexpected or unconventionallooking for possible docking sites with sources.“The idea of an encyclopedia,written by readers, becomingthe largest and mostcomprehensive work of itskind, would have seemedoutlandish a decade ago...”10 Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  13. 13. TechnologyPioneers 2008 ContentsThirty-nine companies have been chosen as Technology biotechnology/HEALTHPioneers in 2008. They come from three categories: 23andMe 12biotechnology and health, energy/environmental technology Accuray 12and information technology. Candidates are nominated Anecova 13by members, constituents and collaborators of the World InSightec 13Economic Forum. Candidates are reviewed by an external mondoBIOTECH 14Selection Advisory Committee comprising technology experts Neurosynaptic 14in a variety of fields; the World Economic Forum takes the final NuLens 15decision. The pioneers are chosen on the basis of six selection Oxitec 15criteria: RainDance Technologies 16 Resverlogix 16Innovation The company must be truly innovative. A new version Rincon Pharmaceuticals 17or repackaging of an already well-accepted technological SiGNa Chemistry 17solution does not qualify as an innovation. The innovation andcommercialisation should be recent. The company should invest Energy/environmentalsignificantly in RD. technology Cima NanoTech 18Potential impact The company must have the potential to have FluXXion 18a substantial long-term impact on business and society. GridPoint 19 Hycrete, Inc. 19Growth and sustainability The company should have all the LS9, Inc. 20signs of a long-term market leader and should have well- Nanostellar 20formulated plans for future development and growth. Primafuel 21 Silver Spring Networks 21Proof of concept The company must have a product on the SkySails 22market or have proven practical applications of the technology. Unidym, Inc. 22Companies in “stealth” mode and those with untested ideas ormodels do not qualify. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AdMob 23Leadership The company must have visionary leadership that Arteris 23plays a critical role in driving it towards its goals. Clearwire Corporation 24 Garlik 24Status The company must not currently be a Member of the Imaginatik 25World Economic Forum. Innovative Silicon 25 Kayak 26 Lumio 26 Medio 27 Meraki 27 Polar Rose 28 QlikTech 28 Roundbox, Inc. 29 SpeedBit 29 Transclick 30 Wikimedia Foundation 30 Yandex 31Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008 11
  14. 14. biotechnology/health biotechnology/health23andMe AccurayLinda Avey and Anne Wojcicki, co-founders Euan S Thomson, CEOLOCATION California, USA LOCATION Sunnyvale, USANUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 33 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 450YEAR FOUNDED 2006 YEAR FOUNDED 1990ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upAdvances in genetic analysis tools, which leverage Accuray’s roots go back to 1987, when John Adler,data gleaned from the human genome project, are now a professor of neurosurgery and radiationstarting to shed light on how DNA influences the oncology at Stanford University Medical Center,development and function of individuals. developed the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System after completing a fellowship in Sweden23andMe aims to develop new ways to help people with Dr Lars Leksell, the founder of radiosurgery.make sense of their own genetic information, With the CyberKnife System, Mr Adler’s vision was toby connecting customers with the 23 paired develop a non-invasive robotic radiosurgery systemvolumes of their own genetic blueprint (plus their with superior accuracy for treatment of tumoursmitochondrial DNA), bringing personal insight anywhere in the body. The revolutionary conceptinto ancestry, genealogy and inherited traits. The reached far beyond the practice of radiosurgery atcompany builds on recent advances in DNA analysis the time, which was restricted to the treatment oftechnologies to enable broad, secure and private intracranial tumours.access to trustworthy and accurate individualgenetic information. Combined with educational In 1999 the CyberKnife System was approved for theand scientific resources with which to interpret and treatment of head, neck and upper spine tumours,understand it, people’s genomes have now become becoming the first radiosurgery system to combinepersonal in a whole new way. The second phase of image guidance and computer-controlled robotics,23andMe will enable individuals—armed with their and was subsequently approved for treating othergenetic information—to network with others and tag tumours including in the lungs, liver, pancreas andtheir particular research interests. prostate. Since then, Accuray has continued to develop its technology, launching tumour detectionThe founders of 23andMe are Linda Avey, a and tracking systems. In November 2007, Accuraybiotechnology executive, whose recent career notched up a new milestone when the CyberKnifefocus has been on the acceleration of personalised System was used to treat its 40,000th patient.medicine, and Anne Wojcicki, who left the investment Significantly, 4,000 of those were being treated forworld with the hope that she could have a positive lung cancer, a rapidly growing target for Accuray.impact on medicine and biotechnology. Why the company is a pioneerWhy the company is a pioneer As Euan Thomson, the company’s CEO, hasSince the sequencing of the human genome, the explained, the paradigm of cancer care today isconcept of personalised medicine has often been shifting towards treatment alternatives that exhibitdiscussed, but rarely has its promise been rendered fewer risks, fewer side-effects and decreasedtangible. The founders of 23andMe have been able recovery times. Accuray’s tried and testedto envisage a way to generate valuable, personalised radiosurgery technology is now recognised as beingprofiles based on the core of an individual’s DNA. at the forefront of non-invasive cancer treatments, meaning that more patients can expect a better quality of life.23andMe Telephone: +1 650 938 6300 Accuray Telephone: +1 408 716 46002606 Bayshore Parkway Facsimile: +1 650 938 6305 1310 Chesapeake Terrace Facsimile: +1 408 716 4601Mountain View, CA 94043 Sunnyvale, CA 94089 www.accuray.comUSA USA12 Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  15. 15. biotechnology/health biotechnology/healthAnecova InSightecMartin Velasco, Founder, Chairman and CEO Dr Kobi Vortman, president and CEOLOCATION Lausanne, Switzerland LOCATION Haifa, IsraelNUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 10 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 150YEAR FOUNDED 2004 YEAR FOUNDED 1999ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up ORIGINS Spin-off from GE HealthcareSterility now affects one couple in every 10, globally. A patient is at the clinic, undergoing a magneticIn vitro technology has done much to offer hope resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which diagnoses ato many couples who otherwise could not have tumour. In just ten minutes, the diagnostic suite haschildren, but Anecova has now gone a step further. become an operating theatre. Instead of surgery, however, the patient remains inside the MRI—andThe company began with the vision of Dr Pascal a short time later the patient’s tumour is gone.Mock, a researcher in human embryo implantation This is the basis of the ExAblate 2000 technologyat the Clinique des Grangettes in Geneva, and Martin developed by InSightec, which integrates MRI withVelasco, entrepreneur and business angel. Dr Mock focused ultrasound energy as a new treatmentcame up with the idea of replacing the test tube used paradigm aimed at replacing invasive surgicalfor in vitro fertilisation with a permeable capsule, procedures and providing a therapeutic alternativeinserted in the mother’s uterus, so that gametes for some very serious diseases.(spermatozoa, ovules) and/or embryos woulddevelop under more natural conditions. In vivo In the procedure, the MRI provides the physicianfertilisation was born, so to speak. with 3D images of the target and surrounding tissue. High-intensity, focused ultrasound waves areThe Anecova device is a vessel, 10 millimetres long precisely directed into the body at the target raisingand less than a millimetre in diameter, pierced the temperature of the targeted tissue to up to 85°with hundreds of tiny apertures to facilitate Celsius and destroying it. Meanwhile, the thermalcommunication between the embryo and its natural imaging capabilities of the MRI scanner provide real-environment. The result, Anecova expects, will time feedback on all aspects of the procedure, givingbe the development of better quality embryos. greater control over therapeutic outcomes.The advantage of the Anecova vessel is that anembryo can develop in close communication with its ExAblate was first approved for use in 2004 to treatmother’s environment from the very start of its life. symptomatic uterine fibroids, and has since beenImportantly, it is also satisfying for the mother. used to treat more than 3,500 women. InSightec has also begun clinical trials to study its use inWhy the company is a pioneer other indications including breast, bone, liver andIf its clinical successes continue, Anecova will be at brain tumours. It has also been approved in Europethe forefront of assisted reproduction technology as a treatment for pain palliation caused by bone– not just technically, but also in the important step metastases.of cementing the physical bonds of a child with itsparent at the earliest stage of life, no matter the Why the company is a pioneercircumstances of its birth. Healthcare providers are seeking ways to provide localised targeted therapy, while sparing healthy tissue and without necessitating long, expensive stays in hospital. InSightec’s ExAblate does just that, building on existing technology to create a new and precise treatment method with broad applications in serious medical conditions.Anecova Telephone: +41 22 310 9542 InSightec Telephone: +972 4 813 13136, Cours des Bastions Facsimile: 41 22/310 9642 5 Nahum Heth St. Facsimile: +972 4 813 1322CH - 1205 Geneva 39120 Tirat Carmel IsraelCrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008 13
  16. 16. biotechnology/health biotechnology/healthmondoBIOTECH Neurosynaptic CommsFabio Cavalli, co-founder, CEO Sameer Sawarkar, CEOand chief business architect LOCATION Bangalore, IndiaLOCATION Basel, Switzerland NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 26NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 35 YEAR FOUNDED 2002YEAR FOUNDED 2001 ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upSwiss-based mondoBIOTECH, founded just after the Medical technology can be a wonderful enabler,human genome was deciphered, has set its sights on provided that it is widely accessible. Advancedfinding treatments for so-called orphan diseases, medical diagnostics and treatment are becomingand delivering its pipeline to larger biotechs and commonplace in much of the developed world.drug companies to be commercialised. Yet many people worldwide continue to suffer, simply because they are unable to take advantagemondoBIOTECH uses its technologies— of even simple and standard medical facilities andhuman peptide platforms—to seek out novel diagnostics.biopharmaceutical products. Among its targets arelesser known diseases, but which are nonetheless Neurosynaptic Communications has set out todebilitating, such as idiopathic pulmonary address this imbalance with a big vision: healthcarefibrosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension. for all. Its mission is equally ambitious—to improvemondoBIOTECH has received 5 Orphan Medical remote healthcare through technology. The companyProduct Designations for the drug Aviptadil, in maintains that technology is key to breaking theEurope and in the US. The last one was granted in distance barrier and achieving affordable, scalableOctober 2007 for Aviptadil in sarcoidosis, currently and trustworthy healthcare delivery mid-stage clinical trials—a rare lung disease inwhich patients are left with permanent lung damage. The company, in collaboration with the IndianThe disease affects as many as 80,000 people in Institute of Technology at Madras, has developedEurope alone. a wide range of medical diagnostic equipment for clinics, hospitals and rural healthcare centres, underClinical trials of such drugs are expensive, so the umbrella of its ReMeDi medical data acquisitionmondoBIOTECH is sailing an intelligent course system. The system gathers medical information andto make sure they reach patients—licensing backs it up with a complete telemedicine solution,its intellectual property and collaborating with even providing the possibility of video and audiobigger companies. On Aviptadil, for example, the conferencing. ReMeDi is one part of the platformcompany has partnered with a US firm, Biogen of technologies being implemented by the IndianIdec, to commercialise the drug for the treatment of Institute of Technology’s Tenet group, in whichpulmonary arterial hypertension. local entrepreneurs in villages act as brokers of the technology, offering services such as telemedicineWhy the company is a pioneer and broadband internet.Developments in technology have brought bettermedicines within the grasp of many patients. Why the company is a pioneerHowever, drug development remains expensive, While ”unmet needs” in medicine typically refers toso most large drug companies play it safe and untreated diseases, Neurosynaptic has recognisedconcentrate on widespread diseases. Companies such that access to reliable, innovative technology is oftenas mondoBIOTECH play an increasingly important also an unmet need in many communities. With a bigrole in making sure that sufferers of lesser-known vision behind it, the company is working to redressdiseases eventually find relief from their conditions. that balance from the ground up.mondoBIOTECH Telephone: +41 84 020 0027 Neurosynaptic Communications Telephone: +91 80 6531 6520Hardstrasse 52 Facsimile: +41 84 020 0028 #6, 29th Main, BTM Layout, II Facsimile: +91 80 4111 05204052 Basel Stage, Bangalore - 560 076 www.neurosynaptic.comSwitzerland Karnataka, India14 Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  17. 17. biotechnology/health biotechnology/healthNuLens OxitecOri Gal, CEO Luke Alphey, founder and chief scientistLOCATION Herzeliya, Israel LOCATION Oxford, UKNUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 17 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 25YEAR FOUNDED 2002 YEAR FOUNDED 2005ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up ORIGINS Spin-out from Oxford UniversityBy the age of 40 most people will have experienced Insects ravage crops and carry diseases of humanssome degree of presbyopia—a vision disorder that and livestock. Billions of dollars are spent each yearinvolves the eye’s inability to focus on near activities, on insecticides, but there is a growing demandlike reading a newspaper. By the age of 65 many will for more environmentally friendly techniques.also have had an operation for cataracts—the most One of the best pest control methods is the sterilecommon surgical procedure performed worldwide. insect technique (SIT), which has been in use since the 1950s. The technique is safe and has a lowToday’s cataract surgery procedures consist of environmental impact—it is very specific for theinserting intraocular lenses (IOLs). Standard IOLs are target pest and reduces or eliminates the need formonofocal, while the more advanced are multifocal insecticides. However, its wider use is currentlyor pseudo-accommodating with up to two diopters restricted by several issues, including the need toof accommodation. However, NuLens is developing irradiate the insects to sterilise them (some insectsa novel technology, real accommodating IOLs, such as mosquitoes cannot tolerate irradiation).which are designed to be inserted during cataractsurgery and provide more than 10 diopters of Enter Oxitec, which is developing new technologyaccommodative power. Such a dynamic range means to make SIT more affordable, safer and applicablethat patients could potentially leave cataract surgery to a wider range of pests. Oxitec’s platform, RIDL,with better vision than they had when they were 20 employs genetics and molecular biology to improveyears old. significantly the cost effectiveness and safety of SIT, and to extend it to a broader range of insect pests,The technology is still in clinical trials, but initial notably flies, mosquitoes and moths.research has given NuLens plenty of confidence.Its management has the right pedigree for success Oxitec’s RIDL insects are bred to be sterile, but cantoo. Its chairman, Glenn Sblendorio, recently led a live and reproduce normally if fed a special diet. TheyUS$1bn deal between Eyetech, a biotech company, can therefore be reared in a factory and releasedand Pfizer, a pharmaceutical firm, over Eyetech’s to mate with wild pest insects without the needlead product, Macugen, and Gerald (‘Jerry’) Ostrov, a for an additional sterilising step. RIDL insects willboard member, was head of JJ Visioncare in 2005. also be more vigorous and competitive for mates than irradiated ones, so fewer RIDL insects will be required for effective control, thus reducing costs.Why the company is a pioneerWith the continued ageing of the population and Why the company is a pioneeran estimated 1bn people aged over 60 by the One of the hardest pests to control is the mosquito—year 2020, the presbyopia and cataract markets as seen by the increase in mosquito-borne diseaseswill be among the largest in healthcare. NuLens’s such as dengue fever and malaria in the developingtechnology is poised to capture that market, while and developed world. Oxitec’s technology couldalso leaving many people with a better vision of their provide a safe and failsafe solution. The companyfuture. was recently awarded part of a US$20m grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges for Global Health Initiative.NuLens Telephone: +972 (9) 954 9495 Oxitec Telephone: +44 1235 832 393Maskit 15 Facsimile: +972 (9) 954 8060 71 Milton Park Facsimile: +44 1235 861 13846121 Herzeliya Pituach Abingdon Oxford www.oxitec.comIsrael OX14 4RX UKCrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008 15
  18. 18. biotechnology/health biotechnology/healthRainDance Technologies ResverlogixJonathan Rothberg, founder Donald J McCaffrey, president, CEO and co-LOCATION Guilford, USA founderNUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 35 LOCATION Calgary, CanadaYEAR FOUNDED 2004 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 34ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up YEAR FOUNDED 2001 ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upRainDance Technologies has developed the Revolutions don’t always have to be tumultuous—Professional Laboratory System (PLS), a laboratory sometimes they happen quietly. This is especiallybenchtop system that automates data-rich assay true in medicine, where new ways of looking atand screening protocols for academic laboratories diseases can create more effective treatments forand corporate research centres across several even the best-known diseases. Resverlogix was borndisciplines. RainDance pioneered the use of micron- when an entrepreneur, Donald McCaffrey, met asized droplets to encapsulate chemical and biological clinician, Norman Wong, at a conference. The twosamples on a microfluidic chip, making each droplet discussed the paradigm shift in the treatment ofthe equivalent of a well in a microtitre plate. Dozens atherosclerosis (a disease affecting arterial bloodof current generic and specialised genomic, drug vessels) from the reduction of LDL cholesterol todiscovery, diagnostic and industrial applications can raising HDL cholesterol, and realised they had abe ported over to the PLS, which is then configured common goal of developing better therapies for theusing inexpensive chips to replace a range of fluid- treatment of cardiovascular diseases.handling and analytical chemistry instruments,including microarrays, thermal cyclers, robotic The result, several years later, is a product-driven,screening platforms and flow cytometers. publicly traded drug development company with multiple programmes focused on several diseaseThe company’s founders’ own achievements span targets. Leading the charge is its NexVas technology,the sciences, from physics to biochemistry. They whose basis is a platform for the developmentinclude Dr Jonathan Rothberg, a serial entrepreneur of drugs by increasing the production of ApoA-lwho has also founded similarly innovative companies (the primary component of HDL cholesterol) tosuch as 454 Life Sciences and CuraGen. But treat atherosclerosis, the underlying cause ofRainDance’s platform has applications beyond life cardiovascular diseases. This approach also holdsscience research processes such as identification of promise for Alzheimer’s disease—recent clinicalcancer markers and drug discovery. It is also broad trial data from Alzheimer’s patients, coupled withenough to take in enzyme evolution for industrial findings from animal studies, indicate that raisingproduction, including biofuels. ApoA-l/HDL levels could be beneficial in the treatmentWhy the company is a pioneerAs laboratory research becomes increasingly Why the company is a pioneercomplex, researchers depend increasingly on Backing up Resverlogix’s research programme isinnovative technologies such as the RainDance PLS the knowledge that working with larger partnersto help speed up and streamline the process—and is crucial if its products are to get to market. Insave costs. The technology platform can process the company’s armoury is ReVas, a research-stagesamples at 10,000 droplets per second, helping to technology for the development of therapeutics,deliver faster, cheaper and more accurate analysis which can be used with medical devices for thethan a host of common life science tools. treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Validating that technology is a partnership with Medtronic, a leading developer of drug-eluting stents.RainDance Technologies Telephone: +1 203 458 2947 Resverlogix Telephone: +1 403 254 9252530 Old Whitfield Street Facsimile: +1 203 458 2514 279 Midpark Way SE Suite 202 Facsimile: +1 403 256 8495Guilford, CT 06437 Calgary, AB T2X 1M2 www.resverlogix.comUSA Canada16 Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  19. 19. biotechnology/health biotechnology/healthRincon Pharmaceuticals SiGNa ChemistryBruce D Steel, CEO Michael Lefenfeld, founder, president and CEOLOCATION San Diego, USA LOCATION New York, USANUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 15 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 15YEAR FOUNDED 2003 YEAR FOUNDED 2003ORIGINS Spin-out from ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upThe Scripps Research InstituteProtein therapeutics is one of the fastest-growing Across a range of industries—from pharmaceuticalsclasses of molecules in drug development—more and petroleum to environmental remediation—than 250 are currently in clinical trials. However, getting the chemistry right can be one of thethe time constraints, capital requirements and trickiest components of scaling a project up toproduction costs involved in developing and industrial capacity. Alkali metals, for example, haveproducing protein therapeutics have created limited use in large-scale chemical synthesis becausea massive barrier to entry in protein drug of their volatility when exposed to air or moisture,development. and practical alternatives have proven difficult to develop.Rincon Pharmaceuticals aims to address theshortcomings inherent in current recombinant SiGNa Chemistry has developed and patented aprotein production technologies, which include the method for making alkali metals and their derivativesdifficulty involved in making complex proteins, as a more practical part of industry’s clean chemistrywell as slow development speed, poor manufacturing toolkit, by encapsulating them in nano-structuredscalability and high production costs. To do that, porous oxides and removing their hazards. SiGNa’sit has developed a platform technology, AlgRx, alkali metal-porous oxide (M-SG) products arebased on the novel use of eukaryotic microalgae free-flowing powders that retain their parent alkalias a production system for recombinant proteins. metal’s usefulness, being able to perform fastMicroalgae provide several advantages as a protein reductions at room temperature and to removeproduction host cell—they are easy to modify impurities. But importantly, they also have stabilitygenetically, grow easily and rapidly (doubling in cell among their attributes—they do not ignite or oxidisenumber every eight hours), can be cultivated at very in air, which means that they are safer and cheaper tolarge scale, are not known to contain human viruses use and ship.or pathogens, and have the ability to make complexproteins that may not be made in other systems. Why the company is a pioneer SiGNa Chemistry is an early-stage company, but theThe company’s strategy is to partner its AlgRx materials and processes it has developed to stabiliseplatform with other biotech companies’ pipelines reactive metals are already winning customers. Inand leverage its capabilities to develop a proprietary pharmaceuticals and industrial chemistry, SiGNa’sproduct pipeline. Rincon is currently evaluating materials have replaced hazardous processes withseveral proteins produced in the AlgRx system as sustainable chemical pathways. They are also beingpossible product candidates. used for the safe removal of polluting sulphur from petroleum, and constitute one of the most effectiveWhy the company is a pioneer means for processing water into pure hydrogen fuel.Manufacturing capability is a key strategic asset SiGNa materials are also used as a benign mechanismin protein therapeutic development and is a major for removing hazardous oil contamination,barrier to entry for the world’s top biopharmaceutical chemical warfare agents, PCBs and freons from thecompanies. Rincon’s AlgRx technology should help reduce this barrier, while also developing uniqueand enhanced drug properties.Rincon Pharmaceuticals Telephone: +1 858 736 3131 SiGNa Chemistry Telephone: +1 212 933 41013030 Bunker Hill Street Facsimile: +1 858 736 3101 Corporate Offices Facsimile: +1 212 208 2605Suite 318 530 East 76th Street Suite 9E www.signachem.comSan Diego, CA 92109 USA New York City, NY 10021 USACrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008 17
  20. 20. energy/environmental technology energy/environmental technologyCima NanoTech FluXXionJon Brodd, CEO Thijs Bril, CEOLOCATION St Paul, USA LOCATION Eindhoven, NetherlandsNUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 32 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 15YEAR FOUNDED 2002 YEAR FOUNDED 2003ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upCima NanoTech is an advanced materials company FluXXion, a technology company, is the supplier ofspecialising in nanomaterials for the electronics a new membrane technology for the bulk liquid andindustries. The company’s commercial-scale analytical filtering markets. The development andnanomaterial production and advanced formulation production of silicon wafer membranes is carried outcapability have allowed the development of new in close co-operation with Royal Philips Electronics,technologies, such as conductive inks for use in with FluXXion applying the advanced capabilitiesinkjet printing of electronics and other applications in microsystem and semiconductor technologyand self-assembling transparent conductive coatings available at Philips’s high-tech campus in Eindhoven.for flat panel displays, solar cells and other printed The technology is then applied to the product designelectronics applications. and manufacture of micro filtration membrane products for the bulk and analytical liquid filtrationCima NanoTech has spearheaded the development of markets.nanotechnology by co-founding the Nano FunctionalMaterials Consortium, a collaboration of academia FluXXion’s filter units make use of a dynamicand industry designed to develop and commercialise cross-flow pulsing technology, which provides ananotechnology. Applications of Cima’s proprietary mechanical cleaning mechanism that keeps thetechnology are being used by specialist firms in holes in the filters open during filtration. TheJapan, South Korea and the US. microfiltration system comprises a silicon disk, the same kind used for computer chips, from which anThe company is also currently researching and extremely thin membrane (less than a thousandth ofdeveloping nanoscale semiconductor materials for a millimetre) is made. This makes it possible to builduse in radio frequency identity (RFID) tags and other very compact filtration units, and also ensures highprinted electronics. flow rates.Why the company is a pioneer Why the company is a pioneerCima NanoTech’s core group of researchers has FluXXion’s key product is its bulk filtration unit,developed patented methods for consistently which enables low-cost filtration that is a hundredmanufacturing a wide range of nanometal times faster than conventional processes, providingand nanometal alloy particles that form the its customers with a far better yield. Compared withtechnology platform for its electronics-focused conventional membranes, the firm’s membraneproduct development. The company’s nanometal systems provide improvements in terms of filtrationdispersions is the enabling technology for next- quality, cost of ownership, energy consumption,generation digital inkjet printing of microcircuits and chemical inertness, fouling prevention, wastetransparent conductive coatings for electronics. disposal and cleaning ability.Cima NanoTech Telephone: +1 651 646 6266 FluXXion Telephone: +31 40 277 40691000 Westgate Drive Facsimile: +1 651 646 4161 High Tech Campus 11 Facsimile: +31 40 274 4199Suite 100 5656AE Eindhoven www.fluxxion.comSt Paul, MN 55114 USA The Netherlands18 Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  21. 21. energy/environmental technology energy/environmental technologyGridPoint Hycrete, Inc.Peter L Corsell, president and CEO David Rosenberg, president and CEOLOCATION Arlington, USA LOCATION Carlstadt, USANUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 75 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 27YEAR FOUNDED 2003 YEAR FOUNDED 2005ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upWith the world increasingly looking to harness as Concrete is a wonderful building material, withmany different sources of energy as possible, the one big drawback—it acts like a hard sponge andprospect of building new and costly power plants is in many applications needs to be waterproofed.starting to weigh up. GridPoint’s SmartGrid Platform Traditional waterproofing relies on externalallows electric utility companies to tackle climate membranes or coatings that must be applied withchange where it can really count: at the point of perfect workmanship in order to function consumption. In practice, this frequently fails and results in water ingress and corrosion of any steel reinforcement.The technology is a modular, scalable and upgradable Moreover, there is a large environmental impact,architecture that allows utilities to manage demand as many of these membranes are composed ofand supply using distributed conservation and toxic materials and are permanently bonded to thegeneration technologies. The platform’s load concrete, thus its recyclability.measurement and control capability allows utilityfirms to draw clean energy from new fuel sources, Hycrete’s technology provides a solution tosuch as solar panels, fuel cells and plug-in hybrid this problem. The approach is based on a high-electric technologies, which reside at the home or performance water-based material that, when mixedbusiness. This helps utilities to move closer to their integrally with concrete, transforms concrete fromenvironmental goals, while securing supply. The an open network of capillaries to a waterproof andplatform also helps homeowners and businesses to protective building material. This performancesave energy through better management—non- enhancement to the concrete eliminates the needessential loads can be reduced and energy peaks for external membranes, coatings and sheetingironed out to make energy purchasing cheaper and treatments, which in turn accelerates constructionmore predictable. timelines and uses less material, while being more economical and environmentally sound. Hycrete’sWhy the company is a pioneer admixture also binds to the steel reinforcementGridPoint’s intelligent network not only offers a inside the concrete, which prevents corrosion andnew means of dealing with the energy crisis, but improves structural life.also allows utilities to improve their efficiencyby providing better forecasting techniques and Why the company is a pioneermanagement of demand and supply. Hycrete’s advanced material corrects the fundamental flaw of the most widely used building material in the world. Concrete is transformed from a hard sponge into a waterproof material. The company’s technology produces a dry durable structure that accelerates construction schedules and is environmentally intelligent.GridPoint Telephone: +1 202 903 2100 Hycrete, Inc. Telephone: +1 201 386 81102801 Clarendon Blvd. Facsimile: +1 202 903 2101 462 Barell Avenue Facsimile: +1 201 386 8155Arlington, VA 22201 Carlstadt, NJ 07072 www.hycrete.comUSA USACrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008 19
  22. 22. energy/environmental technology energy/environmental technologyLS9, Inc. NanostellarRobert Walsh, president Pankaj Dhingra, CEOLOCATION San Carlos, USA LOCATION Redwood City, CaliforniaNUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 27 NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 33YEAR FOUNDED 2005 YEAR FOUNDED 2003ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-up ORIGINS Stanford UniversityEconomic growth in India, China and other Spurred by the environmental threat posed bydeveloping markets is creating serious issues for the pollution from transportation, governments in aenergy industry and the environment, especially number of developed nations have passed legislationwhen it comes to the predicted explosion of cars that sets incrementally stricter emissions reductions.and other motorised transport. Silicon Valley-based This makes the quest for more efficient methods ofLS9 is addressing this challenge by using synthetic reducing diesel emissions not just desirable, but alsobiology to produce proprietary biofuels that a legal obligation. It is a big issue, but in providingresemble petroleum-derived fuel. a solution, Nanostellar has thought small—very small—as well as at a large-scale.LS9’s renewable biofuel will provide a cost-competitive and clean option that could enable these Its Rational Catalyst Design (RCD) methodologynations to grow and meet their population’s need for unites two disciplines—computational nanosciencepersonal transport while cutting back on emissions and advanced synthetic chemistry—to speed thethroughout the rest of the world. Combining pace of development for nanoscaled catalyticindustrial and synthetic biotechnology, LS9 has materials for diesel emissions control. RCD allowsengineered natural biological ”tools”, as are used Nanostellar to gain a fundamental understandingin the production of ethanol, to come up with an of the surface chemistry and properties ofindustrial-sized solution that it will launch in the next nanomaterials, enabling it to engineer newthree to five years. nanoscale alloys that reduce exhaust emissions and improve the performance of diesel emissions controlWhy the company is a pioneer catalysts by 25-30%.LS9 is developing industrial-scale biofuels at a timewhen the world is seeking large-scale solutions The traditional method of catalyst design hasto climate change. Its product could one day be a been either by trial and error, which can be costlyreplacement for petrol (gasoline) or diesel, helping and carries no guarantee of success, or throughto provide a cost-effective solution that could combinatorial chemistry, which is expensive and canremove some of the strain on already scarce natural lead to false results. Nanostellar’s technology usesresources while helping to curb carbon emissions. fundamental knowledge of a catalyst’s structure and reactivity, combined with state-of-the-art computational methods, to guide the creation of new products. Why the company is a pioneer Nanostellar’s rational design approach is changing the face of nanomaterials design, in the same way that electronic design automation (EDA) changed electronic circuit design, by allowing complex circuits to be designed and tested computationally. Computer-based design for nanomaterials helps to slash costs and reduce time to market.LS9, Inc. Telephone: +1 650 596 8600 Nanostellar Inc. Telephone: +1 650 368 10101300 Industrial Road, #16 Facsimile: +1 650 596 6195 3696 Haven Avenue Facsimile: +1 650 368 1101San Carlos, California 94070 Redwood City, CA 94063 www.nanostellar.comUSA USA20 Crowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008
  23. 23. energy/environmental technology energy/environmental technologyPrimafuel Silver Spring NetworksBrook Porter, co-founder and Scott Lang, president and CEOexecutive vice-president LOCATION Redwood City, USALOCATION Long Beach, USA NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 100NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 40 YEAR FOUNDED 2002YEAR FOUNDED 2005 ORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upORIGINS Entrepreneurial start-upThe development of alternatives to petrol, sourced Rather than waiting for the US government tofrom biological materials, is a hot topic. Yet mandate “smart” power grids, Silver Springsurprisingly few companies look close to being able Networks has taken on the issue of rising energyto provide practical, commercial-scale biofuels that demands and ageing infrastructure. The company’sare also carbon-neutral and sustainable. Primafuel sole focus is on developing open, standards-basedhas concentrated on developing the infrastructure products that improve the efficiency and reliabilityand technologies needed throughout the fuel supply of utility services through automation. It developedchain, which could ultimately allow utilities and an IP-based smart grid using existing networkinggovernments to move towards zero-carbon fuels. technologies to create a scalable product for the power industry. The technology helps to cut costsWorking with the world’s largest oil companies to residential consumers and businesses, whileand agriculture conglomerates, Primafuel looks also opening up the market to new players, thusat every point of biofuels production and supply, promoting competition and driving down costs.from securing the most practical locations to buildrefineries, to developing more efficient processing Silver Spring Network’s smart grid is built onand conversion technologies, to constructing standards-based technology, which means that it isrefineries that process multiple feedstocks, and open for others to build on—and also means lowerfinally to developing a large-scale, and sustainable, development costs. It works by creating a real-supply chain. time, two-way network that allows the consumer and the utility to manage power loads and limits.Biofuels are being touted as one of the world’s It also allows for the more efficient use of energysolutions to fuelling transport options in the fight and enables the use of distributed generation andagainst climate change. But Primafuel’s work goes storage devices to minimise peaking stress on thebeyond the green rhetoric, and takes in public, natural resource management, food securityand sustainable agriculture in an effort to help Why the company is a pioneerovercome some of the challenges involved in getting Silver Spring Networks has opened up a new marketzero-carbon biofuels to the market. with its scalable technology that helps to control demand for energy, and which can be rolled out toWhy the company is a pioneer thousands, or even millions, of customers worldwide.Although the biofuels industry is in its infancy,Primafuel has already been given a chance todemonstrate its worth. The California Air ResourceBoard has awarded Primafuel the largest-ever singleCalifornia grant towards biodiesel production, whichwill help the company to build a US$90m productionfacility in Sacramento.Primafuel Telephone: +1 562 683 3470 Silver Spring Networks Telephone: +1 650 298 42002774 Dawson Ave Facsimile: +1 562 492 9568 575 Broadway Facsimile: +1 650 363 5240Signal Hill, CA 90755 Redwood City, CA 94063 www.silverspringnetworks.comUSA USACrowd wisdom | The World Economics Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2008 21