Cities Media & Marketing

Detroit’s LevelEleven Revs Sales Motivation

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What do you do as a manager when the conventional means of motivating your sales team—competitions, prizes, inspirational speeches—fall flat? How can you leverage technology to help rally and focus your team around company initiatives, product launches, and winning new business? LevelEleven CEO Bob Marsh set out to tackle these questions when he was at his former job as head of sales operations at consumer engagement platform HelloWorld. Before long, what began as an in-house project evolved into a promising product. “After about six months, we had signed up a dozen paying customers, including the Detroit Pistons and Comcast, so we knew we were on to something,” says Marsh.   More

Cities Partner Insights

How Sharing, RoboCars, and 3D Printing Can Reinvent Industrial Detroit

Detroit skyline illustration via Shutterstock

"The age of the industrial city is over, at least in the West, and it will never return," declared Edward Glaeser in his book “Triumph of the City.” Detroit, whose decline he blamed on the "extravagant success of Ford's big idea" that "brought hundreds of thousands of less-well-educated workers to vast factories," was Glaeser's best evidence. The Harvard economics professor might be right about Detroit’s past. But a Motor City renaissance is determined to prove him wrong about its future. And Detroit’s industrial character will almost certainly be the key to its rebirth.   More

Jobs

Rebuilding the American Dream in a Global, Networked Economy

(Image via Shutterstock)

Despite strides in jobs and the economy, Americans remain pessimistic about their future, according to a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Three-quarters of respondents said that they are not confident that their children’s generation will be better off than their own. More than half reportedly believe that a growing income gap between the rich and poor undermines the American dream. The fact is that technology and globalization are changing our way of life. While enriching us in many ways, these transformative forces have eliminated secure jobs and eroded economic security for millions.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Our Era of Preventive Genetic Screening: Brought to You in Part by Mary-Claire King

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Two decades ago, Mary-Claire King made one of the most important contributions to modern healthcare when she discovered the first gene linked to breast cancer. Now, she’s trying to one-up herself. King, a genetics pioneer who won a major scientific award this week from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, has issued a call to change how we think about gene testing in an approach she believes will prevent cancer, not just catch it early. (And if you’ve never met King, the fact that she’s using her award to shed light on a serious public health need rather than to celebrate her own career tells you a little something about her character.)   More

Analytics & Data Cities Government

How Open Data Is Transforming City Life

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Start a business. Manage your power use. Find cheap rents, or avoid crime-ridden neighborhoods. Cities and their citizens worldwide are discovering the power of “open data”—public data and information available from government and other sources that can help solve civic problems and create new business opportunities. By opening up data about transportation, education, health care, and more, municipal governments are helping app developers, civil society organizations, and others to find innovative ways to tackle urban problems.   More

Cities Startup Culture

How Detroit Turned Me into a Coder and Entrepreneur

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There are three things happening in my life right now that, frankly, would have shocked the college-aged Kate Catlin: I live in Detroit; I’m being trained as a coder; and I’m starting a tech company. All through college I was a gregarious environmental activist living in Washington State and happily climbing mountains every weekend. I dreamed of traveling abroad and leading political campaigns, or maybe a “social enterprise” like TOMS shoes. It almost gives me whiplash to look around now and ask, “What just happened?”   More

Manufacturing

Tahoe-Reno Will Be the World’s Battery Capital

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Tesla's $5 billion Gigafactory will be worth nearly $100 billion to Nevada over 20 years, according to the state's Governor Brian Sandoval and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, who announced plans to build the lithium-ion battery plant in the northern part of the state in the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. In return, Nevada is expected to allow Tesla billions of dollars in tax breaks.   More

Jobs Manufacturing

People Are Still More Adaptable Than Robots

The Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics may not displace as many middle-class jobs as feared.

The media and pundits have exaggerated the threat robots present to human workers' livelihood, claims labor market scholar David Autor. Reporting on ideas Autor presented at a recent bankers' conference, New York Times writer Neil Irwin sums up the argument: "Even as computers have gotten better at rote tasks, they have progressed far less in applying common sense."   More

E-Commerce Government

Can Uber Reroute Germany to a Shareable Future?

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In "The Zero Marginal Cost Society," economic theorist and writer Jeremy Rifkin coins the term Collaborative Commons to describe the "digitalized space where providers and users share goods and services" in the emerging "shareable economy." It's no surprise then that Rifkin casts as shortsighted the German court system's decision this week to ban in that country the low-cost UberPop service from Uber, the global carsharing service. In response to a lawsuit filed by Taxi Deutschland in Frankfurt, the court ruled that Uber lacked legal permits to pick up passengers.   More

Media & Marketing

Detroit’s Stik Helps Companies Find Their Biggest Advocates

The Stik team, with Detroit's Comerica Park in the background

When we have important “life administration” decisions to make—getting a loan or a new health insurance plan—we often turn to people we know and trust. A Detroit startup called Stik is asking, “What if businesses could use the Internet to better harness the power of recommendations and benefit from the emerging ‘reputation economy?’” Stik’s end-to-end solution helps businesses grow through referrals, and lets consumers discover businesses they can trust using a new form of social advertising.   More

Cities Startup Culture

Hooked on Company-Building and Community in Detroit

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Entering my senior year of college after a summer working at an investment bank, I had decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. As I began thinking about how to become an entrepreneur, however, I was faced with the reality that I didn’t have an idea to launch straight out of college, and even if I did, I had no idea how to go about starting a company. I was an aspiring entrepreneur without experience, mentorship, or an idea. I had a problem. Then I heard about Venture for America, and it was the perfect solution to my problem.   More

Global Tech

New Microsoft Chief Sets Sail for China

(Photo: LeWeb Paris 2013)

It’s become a sort of rite of passage for CEOs of major tech firms to visit China after moving into their job, which looks set to happen again with a September trip to Beijing set for Microsoft’s new top executive Satya Nadella. Tim Cook traveled to China just 6 months after taking the reins from Steve Jobs as Apple’s CEO in 2011, and has visited the country several times since then. Even Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo visited Shanghai earlier this year, just months after the social networking giant’s New York IPO, despite saying earlier that China wasn’t a market where his company could do business.   More

Techonomy Events

Techonomy Taps Detroit’s Magic on Sept. 16

When Techonomy's Chief Program Director Simone Ross first proposed in late 2011 that we consider doing an entire conference in Detroit, I was a little confused. Detroit? Isn't Techonomy all about cutting edge, shiny, new, transformative technologies and the things being transformed? Why head to America's most distressed big city? But Simone convinced me to head there with her before Christmas that year and I, like her, became captivated. Techonomy is back in Detroit for our third annual Techonomy Detroit conference on Tuesday, September 16, because it turns out to be the perfect place for a "techonomic" discussion about a number of trends everybody needs to understand better.   More

Media & Marketing

Why Amazon’s Newly-Bought Twitch Has Value

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I'm not sure why Amazon is the one who wants to own Twitch, but it must be part of the merchant's desire to broaden more fully into online media and become a real network of entertainment and content. This elucidating review of a Twitch viewing experience from Re/code underscores several things: the uniqueness of the platform's interface and viewing experience, the immaturity of many of its users, and the power of the brand among those testosterone-fueled boys and young men. It could be a dicey property for a would-be decorous part of the global media landscape to manage, but Bezos thought it was worth a billion dollars, so anybody who wants to know where media is going needs to be alert to it.   More

E-Commerce Government

Governments and Sharing: Lessons from the UK’s Beyond Jobs Project

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What can governments do to boost the sharing economy? What would be their incentive to do so? Where are the commercial opportunities if public policy were to fully embrace sharing transactions? I have spent 20 years writing, consulting, and overseeing publicly funded projects based on these questions. The answers in brief: governments are potentially the biggest buyers of fragmented labor, its regulators, setters of tax/welfare codes, administrators of databases of record, and ideally will serve as marketing machines for economic initiatives.   More

Internet of Things

Making Dumb Things Smart

(Image via Shutterstock)

Our physical world is now technology-enabled by the digitization of everything from books to movies to tools—such as the flashlights, cameras, calculators, day planners, music players, and bus schedules that now reside on our smartphones. The Internet and digital technology is most powerful when it is married back into our physical world; when atoms and bytes converge. This intersection also happens to be the source of greatest potential for the Internet of Things (IoT). For the past several years, we’ve heard and talked a lot about how smart things are getting smarter through Moore’s law and the exponential advances in core digital components.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Scripps Bio-Chemist Romesberg: Proteins and Enzymes Could Transform Industry and Medicine

How can a better understanding of evolution help us improve human health? Renowned bio-chemist Floyd Romesberg of the Scripps Research Institute can think of a few ways. For one, cancer cells evolve and grow by “out-competing” neighboring cells, a process Romesberg calls “evolution just run faster than we’re used to.” We spoke to Romesberg at our recent Techonomy Bio event in Mountain View, Calif. He says understanding how our genomes have evolved will give us insights into the genetic diseases we get, and help us treat them. But to fully comprehend the evolutionary process, we have to look at proteins. “Understanding how proteins function is absolutely essential to our understanding of life,” said Romesberg.   More

E-Commerce

Detroit’s Chalkfly Brings Social Good to Office Supplies

Chalkfly co-founders Ryan (left) and Andrew Landau

Andrew and Ryan Landau attended rival universities in Michigan, then left the state after graduation to pursue jobs at Google and IBM. But the pull of home, and the prospect of being part of a burgeoning entrepreneurial renaissance, brought the brothers back to Detroit to launch an innovative e-commerce company. Chalkfly, their fast-growing two-year-old office-supply e-commerce company, lets users donate 5 percent of each sale directly to teachers. Andrew calls the chance to work with his brother and be part of Detroit's revitalization an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Are Scientists Selfish?

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We often hear that scientists hoard data, refusing to share information even when doing so might speed advances to patients in dire need. It’s not just about sharing results on the fly—once a project has been completed and findings published in a journal, most of us observers outside major institutions still can’t get access due to expensive subscriptions. The situation is made all the more unpalatable since most biomedical research is funded by taxpayer dollars. Yet the average taxpayer has little ability to see what comes of that funding.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare

Could Reprogrammed Cells Fight “Untreatable” Diseases?

Loring (front row, center) and her team at the Center for Regenerative Medicine. (Image via www.scripps.edu)

Jeanne Loring and her Scripps Research Institute colleagues transplanted a set of cells into the spinal cords of mice that had lost use of their hind limbs to multiple sclerosis. As the experimentalists expected, within a week, the mice rejected the cells. But after another week, the mice began to walk. "We thought that they wouldn't do anything," says Loring, who directs the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Scripps. But as her lab has since shown numerous times, something that these particular so-called "neural precursor cells" do before the immune system kicks them out seems to make the mouse better.   More