MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago Presents Compelling Panel Discussion On How Technology and Innovation Will Shape the Future

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Nationally Recognized Technology and Innovation Thought Leaders Captivate Over 170 MIT Enterprise Forum of Chicago Attendees as They Present Their Vision of the Future of Chicago and the World 2006-2010

More than 170 technology, research, business government and finance professionals attended the MIT Enterprise Forum’s 6th Annual “Innovation and Technology Forecast 2006-2010” to learn about emerging technology innovations that will soon be a part of our daily lives. The January 10, 2006 event was held at the law offices of Gardner Carton & Douglas LLP, and was co-sponsored by the Chicago Micro/Nanotechnology Community (CMNC).

The theme of the evening was separating hype from reality, and taking a pragmatic view of the future. Some of the more provocative pronouncements made by the panelists included: companies will engage in “efficiency Darwinism,” the Loop will have a “smarter” Block 37, light bulbs will last more than a decade and all of our children will be learning Mandarin Chinese. The panelists included Chunka Mui, Geoffrey Kasselman, Dan Ratner and Jerry Mitchell.

Chunka Mui is chair of DiamondCluster International's global network of external advisors, world famous futurist and co-author of the digital strategy best-seller "Unleashing the Killer App" with Larry Downes (published by Harvard Business School Press, 1998). Dan Ratner is chairman of the Nanotechnology Alliance and co-author of "Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction To The Next Big Idea" and "Nanotechnology And Homeland Security". Geoffrey Kasselman is president of Op2mize and a nationally recognized expert on digital and "smart" buildings. Jerry Mitchell is president of Jerry R. Mitchell & Associates and the founder of the Midwest Entrepreneur Forum.

Michael Krauss, managing principal of Market Strategy Group, LLC, moderated the panel discussion. His “Tech Matters” column appears weekly in the Chicago SunTimes and he also serves as executive co-chairman of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Council of Technology Advisors.

“Biotechnology will have more scientific breakthroughs over the next five years, but information technology is poised for mass adoption and value extraction,” Chunka Mui said. “We will reap the benefits of what we’ve been talking about over the last five years.”

To illustrate his point, Mui pointed to the OnStar communications service offered by General Motors. OnStar enables drivers to contact emergency and customer services at the push of a button with the added benefit of OnStar knowing their exact coordinates. It even monitors the vehicles status and can generate a monthly email containing detailed information about the condition of the vehicle's major systems and oil change interval.

Mui pointed out that OnStar is a useful product that has made the driving experience safer and more satisfying to the mostly GM drivers who subscribe to the service. Every month, OnStar fields approximately 15,000 calls for emergency services. He said that OnStar is in the black and is offered as a standard service on more than half the vehicles sold by GM.

The lesson was that OnStar didn’t reinvent the driving experience but it has profitably made it better. This innovation has lead to an “efficiency Darwinism” in the automobile industry that requires GM’s competitors to match and enhance their own automobile communication services.

To “make things better” is not just a slogan of BASF but also the modus operandi of nanotechnology pioneers like Dan Ratner. Ratner, the son of renowned Northwestern University chemistry professor Mark Ratner, believes the next five years will bring “radical nanotechnology innovation”.

According to Ratner, the economic driver will be the ongoing sustainability of Moore’s Law. Espoused by Intel’s Gordon Moore, this law says the rate of technological development doubles every 18 months. Sooner rather than later, Ratner says, the escalating cost of chip production will be unsustainable and solutions within the arena of molecular electronics will emerge. He added that molecular electronics will engineer a revolution in how images are displayed via an emerging form: organic light-emitting diodes (OLED). Ratner believes OLED will replace the current liquid crystal display (LCD) standard and presumably will lead to cheaper and clearer television sets (or however we get our media five years from now). This will also mean new ways to display images on walls, clothing and virtually anything. Ratner believes an OLED-powered bulb will last 10 years.

Jerry Mitchell stated, “The 2008 Olympics in Beijing will drive a lot of things. Americans will want to get their news and video from there.”

Whether it be multibillion-dollar software incubators, a laser-like focus on western business ideas or international events like the summer Olympics in China, Mitchell commented that we will continue to grow as both a consumer market as well as a center for innovation. Accordingly, entrepreneurs can no longer afford not to have a global point of view. He added that all the start-ups I’m running into are global. High-speed knowledge creation makes things competitive.

Competition driven by globalization has also affected the real estate market, according to Geoffrey Kasselman, whose firm manages the DuPage National Technology Park. He added: “We are immersed in a full-scale economic revolution. There is increasing competition for everything in America. Real estate is not excluded from that.”

A byproduct of competition and technological development is the emergence of smart, mixed-use buildings that operate around the clock. Basic wireless access in urban settings will have a tangible effect on how we perceive space and location.

“Imagine the world as a hot spot,” Kasselman said. “When you can do anything with anybody, it changes how you spend your time and that changes and drives real estate.”

The audience included leaders of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Information Technology Association, Chicago Microtechnology and Nanotechnology Community, Licensing Executives Society, Nano Business Alliance, Innovate Illinois, Community Ventures and TMA. Also in attendance were leaders from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Wisconsin, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.

About the MIT Enterprise Forum

The MIT Enterprise Forum offers provocative new ideas, business cases and professional networking opportunities to senior business leaders while showcasing MIT's contributions to innovation and entrepreneurship in communities around the world. The intent of the Forum is to serve as a focal point for senior business leaders to learn, exchange views, and enhance their ability to manage technology-driven innovation. Established in 1987, the Chicago chapter is part of a network of 25 chapters worldwide. Participation and membership is open to the general public.

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Acknowledgement: The MIT Enterprise Forum thanks Brad Spirrison and Adam Fendelman, editors of ePrairie, for their contributions to preparing this release.


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