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March 11, 2006

More and more people able to drive technology innovation

More and more people are able and will be able to contribute to technological advancement of society Frank Moss, an entrepreneur and former CEO of Tivoli Systems, was named head of MIT's Media Lab in February. Moss, also the co-founder of Stellar Computer and Infinity Pharmaceuticals, has some big shoes to fill. Moss believes entrepreneurs are really the primary vehicle for innovation in our society. Thirty years ago, the primary source for innovation was large corporate labs. That is where all of the money went. Then, 20 to 25 years ago, the source of ideas and creativity shifted to venture funds and startups.

Over the past 20 years, the economy and society changed due to innovation from small independent efforts outside of corporate labs. Technology has enabled startups to have a big influence, and consequently they have had a tremendous effect in the technology scene today. The societal business model is where academic institutions and venture capitalists will be channeling resources and investments. Companies are now paying attention to some of the major socioeconomic problems in the First and the Third World. We have a billion people using computers in the First World. It is still limited to wealthier societies.

In the next 20 years we will see the adoption (increase) to 5 billion to 6 billion. And the kinds of killer apps that are important in that world are not those necessarily centered on communication and commerce.

This goes beyond the global leveling of competition discussed by Thomas Friedman to the leveling of competition between small groups and individuals with large corporations.

One of my predictions is that there will be over 20 million people with 1-5 million and 2 million with 5-30 million. This will increase the amount of angel investors and venture capitalists. The increase in competetent entrepreneurs in the developed countries and in China and India will drive accelerated innovation and competition.

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