Archive for October, 2011

Drug Delivery Innovations

October 18, 2011

FountainBlue’s October 17 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Drug Delivery Innovations. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a range of perspectives on the panel, with a mix of entrepreneurs, researchers, providers, engineers and executives. Everyone’s diverse perspectives, thoughts and experience led to a rich, thought-provoking discussion around drug delivery innovations.
The panel commented on some of the hot areas of innovation in the drug delivery space:
• Delivering drugs to difficulty-to-treat areas, including the eye and the brain
• Consider chronic disease treatments and other illnesses which require frequently injection or medical procedure and the opportunity for delivering regular low-dose medication as an alternate to this more invasive approach.
• Provide less-invasive drug delivery mechanisms for the elderly which are more effectively and more convenient.
• Make implants less invasive, more reversible, easier to use and more effective. Same with inhalable and other methods.
• Consider delivering proteins and peptides in novel ways to address specific patient needs for many potential patients.
• Research existing and expired patent on drugs and consider the opportunities for delivering them in a novel way.
The panel had the following advice for entrepreneurs innovating in this space:
• Visualize and realize success, based on understanding the customer and their needs, and delivering it in a way that is both efficient and effective.
• Always start with the problem, not with the solution looking for the problem. If you start with the problem and work backwards from there, you would be more likely to remain customer-focused, a cornerstone of success for any company, particularly early-stage life science/biopharma companies.
• Consider the end-to-end needs of the solution, from the market, design, delivery and manufacturing/distribution perspectives.
• Be selective about which drug you choose for which drug delivery mechanism, considering factors such as market size, optimal delivery mechanisms (and why), stakeholders currently delivering solution, resistance to use and adoption, addictiveness and side-effects of drugs, and innovative alternative drugs (which may get approval, making your solution moot).
• Partner with large pharma companies, who may have limited budgets for internal R&D, but are chartered with creating new solutions, and finding more solutions for existing drugs. They are now in general interested in renting talent and expertise to solve problems in the market, and generally have a prioritized view of which markets are hottest.
• Partner with research organizations and universities, who may share the R&D costs and burden. There may even be existing solutions you can leverage and integrate into your desired solution. But this is not an easy path, so navigate it gingerly, considering the needs of all throughout the process.
• Focus on creating and leveraging value from the customer perspective, not just creative the latest hot technology.
• Consider leveraging existing delivery mechanisms and existing drugs for new purposes and markets.
• Funding is tight, unless you have a proven solution and are past the R&D phase, so focus on leveraging grants, partnerships, seed funding, etc and live leanly while building momentum.
• Optimize the number of ‘shots on goal’ by being strategic, recruiting the right team, and executing well.
• Select a drug delivery technology that changes the risk-benefit profile for the better.
Although all the panelists commented on the importance of the technology innovations, they were even more vocal about leveraging that technology to best address the needs of the customer, and working with the system and the stakeholders to bring the solution to market. This is a far greater challenge today than in decades past, when there were fewer patents, fewer and less stringent regulatory hurdles, fewer generic options, and larger R&D budgets.
But in the end, despite these challenges, the panel was bullish about the promise of drug delivery innovations, noting that innovations in the new and even established ways drugs are delivered can impact the efficacy and effectiveness of existing drugs and also provide new ways to deliver new and existing drugs, all with an eye to ease of use, needs of the customer, and optimal treatment for the patient.

Please join us in thanking our speakers for FountainBlue’s October 17 Life Science Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Drug Delivery Innovations:
Facilitator Robert Mackey, Biopharma Consultant
Panelist Richard Haiduck, Impel NeuroPharma
Panelist Matthew Hogan, CFO, Durect
Panelist Jeffrey Schuster, Triple Ring Technologies
Panelist Eric Sheu, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer for Vanton Research Laboratory, LLC
Presenting Entrepreneur Adam Mendelsohn, CEO, Nanoprecision Medical
Presenting Entrepreneur Harm Tenhoff, Bay Link LLC

Women Leading Innovation

October 14, 2011

FountainBlue’s When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series was on the topic Women Leading Innovation. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists represented a broad stroke of leaders in high tech across the valley, all with in-depth experience working with technologists, management, engineers and other stakeholders. But they had many things in common:
• They have a combination of wisdom and knowledge, perseverance and strength, leadership and empowerment, and other qualities which helped them drive results while learning and inspiring.
• They are humble about their accomplishments yet generous with their wisdom and time.
• They focus on the problem at hand, and invite new ways of solving problems which would facilitate innovative approaches and techniques for themselves, their teams and their organizations.
• They are constantly evolving and growing and pushing their envelope for themselves and for those around them.
• They balance their left-brained thinking and methodology and learning with right-brain creativity and novelty.
They shared their advice and thoughts about what innovation is and is not:
• Innovation is generally not about one right answer, but an invitation to have many approaches and answers to a pressing problem.
• Innovation is a team sport, better done in a group, rather than inviting a single hero for every problem.
• Innovation does not happen in a silo. People from different areas, different backgrounds, different industries, etc. will help add the type of diverse thinking to a team that can help solve problems through out-of-the-box thinking.
• Innovation is not a destination, it’s a journey. So don’t get complacent with something you’ve innovate, but do continue to iterate and also to innovate.
• The quest for innovation is not seeking a panacea, it’s about always understanding and serving the customer.
• Innovation is not just about technology, it’s about people, processes, business models.
They also shared their thoughts on what innovators are.
• Innovators persevere, overcoming naysayers and obstacles.
• Innovators don’t take things personally, but do take feedback to re-direct their efforts.
• Innovators follow rapid-prototyping practices of failing frequently and quickly and learn through the iterations.
• Innovators push their own comfort zones and that of others, for the good of all.
• Innovators are customer-focused, delivering solutions for customers, rather than creating a technology without a market.
• Innovators have failed much more than they’ve succeeded, and generally learn more from failures than successes.
Here is their advice for those who want to better innovate:
• Think of yourself both as a problem-solver and an innovator.
• Brand yourself as an innovator, someone who can be persistent, resilient and creative about delivering results.
• Do your homework, but don’t expect to have all the information before you make a decision or take action. Choose an area of innovation in the intersection of your passion, your skills and the market need. Instead, follow the 80-20 rule.
• Start by solving small problems and progressively solve larger ones.
• Deliver results and communicate those results in tangible ways.
• Lead by example.
• Connect the dots and bring people together for the larger cause.
• Recognize the sponsors who give you the framework, time and money to innovate. Keep them in the loop, and committed to the cause.
• Be proactive in your communications around your project, especially if it’s something not all stakeholders buy into.
• Navigate political waters and leverage your influencing skills so you get the executive support to continue innovating.
• Success in innovation is always tied to the customers/markets, the leadership/people, and the execution (technology implementation, financing, processes, revenue models, etc.)
The bottom line is that innovation will set you apart, as a leader, as a team, as an organization, and those who innovate best will build the most momentum most quickly.
Thank you to our panelists for FountainBlue’s When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series on the topic Women Leading Innovation:
Facilitator Francine Gordon, FGordon Group
Panelist Raji Arasu, VP Product Development, eBay
Panelist Cornelia Davis, Senior Technologist, Office of the CTO, EMC Corporation
Panelist Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue
Panelist Vijaya Kaza, Director of Engineering, Cisco
Please join us in also in thanking our hosts at EMC for graciously hosting us for this month’s event.

Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment

October 4, 2011

FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment. Below are notes from the conversation.
Our panelists were quite bullish about the opportunities around sustainable solutions for the built environment, ranging from the materials innovations around building materials to the hardware, software, mobile and sensor opportunities around energy generation and management, to the design, operational and implementation options available leveraging today’s technology innovations in networks, software, mobile and other technologies.
But each panelist describes the hurdles interfering with rapid adoption, including:
• A fragmented market with a range of stakeholders and providers throughout the value chain, and the need to coordinate with each of the established players in that market;
• The dominant tendency to embrace complacency and the status quo with existing building materials and functionality; there’s no strong impetus to act for most people;
• Current low-cost options for everything from windows to lighting to building materials, making it difficult to select more sustainable, much more expensive options;
• The lack of policies and incentives to stimulate changing existing functionality and options;
Yet, despite these challenges, our panelists are able to secure funding, develop technologies, invest in research and development, and otherwise drive forward alternative solutions for the built environment which is building momentum and adding value. They shared some advice for others innovating in this space:
• Partner with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, universities and other innovators to solve a real problem with real paying customers.
• Work with utilities and policy-makers to facilitate and incentivize wider and faster adoption.
• Identify and sell to areas of greatest need rather than focusing on educating a market that doesn’t yet feel a need.
• Collaborate and partner with all players in the value chain.
• Offer integrated solutions leveraging the latest technology to manage and automate energy usage.
• Use energy efficiency as an entry point, speaking to the ROI, but also provide additional information which provides added value and information beyond energy usage trends.
• Leverage the passion of sustainability enthusiasts.
• Facilitate the adoption of sustainability standards.
• Generate measurable results and speak to each person in the value chain based on what’s most important to them.

The bottom line is that there are huge opportunities in this space, but also huge barriers to success, like the Google and Microsoft projects. The successful innovators will understand the market needs and deliver products and services which address those needs, working with all pieces of the value chain, collaborating in creating a standard for the market overall.
We would like to thank our speakers for FountainBlue’s Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the topic of Sustainable Solutions for the Built Environment:
Facilitator Andrew Barnes, CEO, Asia Cleantech Partners
Panelist Joseph Gordon, Office of the CTO, Applied Materials
Panelist Jeremy Stieglitz, VP of Building Solutions, Redwood Systems
Presenting Entrepreneur Joshua Slobin, Director of Marketing, Daintree Networks Inc.
Please join us also in thanking to Applied Materials for graciously hosting us for this month’s event.

Third Annual Virtual Worlds Trends Event

October 3, 2011

FountainBlue’s held its Third Annual State of the Virtual Worlds Industry Event on September 30. Below are notes from the conversation.
We were fortunate to have a range of experienced panelists actively engaging in the range of virtual worlds activities. The discussion began with an overview of the industry trend, moving from more entertainment purposes to more serious applications, from text and 2 dimensional renderings to more 3D and web experiences. Drivers for richer adoption of virtual worlds solutions include:
• Technology advancements on the client side for everything from PCs to browsers, to mobile, TV, and headsets which allows users to experience immersive interactions with others dynamically, real-time;
• Increased networking, connectivity and performance, which allows users more options for dynamic, interactive, engaging experiences with others; and
• Diminishing development costs, which make it easier for companies to provide solutions in this space.
• Gen Y grew up surrounded by technology, and will push the immersion solutions and technologies and create the kind of demand that can help spark the industry. They are also fostering a social transformation with the convergence of personal and business life, which will impact the market need and technology direction.
Although there have been many technology advancements, some of the cutting edge applications, the ‘cool’ things are solutions we can do pretty much today. But the seasoned entrepreneur looks for the business model, the customer needs, the funding opportunities for these solutions. And many of these solutions are centered around immersive simulation, training, educating and connecting, especially as it applies to real-life needs in the area of healthcare, military and defense applications. In the corporate arena, virtual worlds are leveraged to filter information, make it relevant and engaging, and make it available real-time, with specific measurable results.
Our panelists were quite bullish for the opportunities ahead in the industry – see industry reports in the resource section below, and commented on the opportunities ahead:
• The rise augmented reality solutions like Microsoft’s KINECT motion detection input device has specific implications for virtual training and gamification.
• The rapid rise and adoption of social networks including FaceBook and Google+ will soon demand a net for virtual communities, where existing groups can connect more virtually, where platforms will allow trusted others or strangers with similar interests to connect.
• Hybrid events will become more popular, where there’s a combination of real-life, face-to-face meetings and virtual connections as well.
• Virtual events may facilitate more communities and conversations and connections on an ongoing basis, either online or virtually or a hybrid of the two.
• Virtual trainings will continue to be leveraged in critical situations where personal safety and expensive equipment might be at risk: in hospital care, in military training, in aerospace, etc.
• Virtual trainings will continue to be leveraged by forward-thinking companies to better connect with customers and partners and staff and other stakeholders, and to better prepare, train, measure, reward, communicate at all levels.
• Leverage the knowledge of subject matter experts from around the globe to solve real-world, real-time problems so that all benefit.
• Translate accepted standards of procedure into virtual worlds experiences and even certification and re-certification processes can not only increase adoption of virtual worlds solutions but also provide customers and practitioners with immediate benefits.
• The trend is to create generic platforms which can be adopted to the needs of specific customers, with their content, their functionality, their look and feel. There is a huge opportunity in making it easy for customers to customize these solutions for their own needs, or doing it efficiently for them.
The challenge today is not really around the technology, but around providing the right solutions to wow the customer and connect them with people more deeply and more easily than they thought possible. Our panelists provided the following recommendations for those in the space:
• As mentioned in Blue Ocean Strategy (see resource area for book information), rather than go directly against the competition, find and delight the customer, those who would benefit from connecting with others, deepening relationships, and/or training and educating key stakeholders in their network.
• Measure the solution you provide with data on whether they like it, whether they master the information, whether they use it, whether business outcomes come from the usage and communicate the results in terms of ROI.
• There is a lack of standard definitions about the industry, and a lot of hype and bad experiences from early adopters and users as well as lots of investment dollars lost on what-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time. These need to be overcome to facilitate deeper and quicker adoption.
• Find the business model around your virtual worlds solutions – how do different types of people make money in participating and what does it mean to him/her?
• Leverage social media and word-of-mouth to build your community and solution.
• If you’re transitioning from real-world to virtual world communities for financial or other reasons, work with your customers to deliver the knowledge, recognition and connections they seek, and also to find other opportunities for them to get that real-world connections. Don’t also expect to have the same feedback, knowledge and results immediately upon the substitution, especially if it was a last-minute, unpopular decision, but if you stick with it, it will continue to generate results.
• Because of these associations, it’s a matter of semantics, and you can speak more about working in a ‘visual social platform’ rather than in a ‘virtual world’ solution.

If Confucius if right when he said ‘I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand,’ and we can prove that virtual world solutions will help people to better understand, the adoption curve is likely to be swift and steep. And we are challenged to make the case that interactive online experiences around community can directly benefit the bottom line now and in the long term. And those who get that it’s more about the people and opportunities to educate, train and connect them real-time, virtually and in-person, and less about the technologies, as enabling as they are, will be more likely to succeed.

• Avista Partners, Interactive Entertainment Summit 23 Nov 09,
o Online as 70% of 106 billion dollar market cap
• Blue Ocean Strategy
o A bestseller across five continents, published in 40 languages with more than 2 million copies sold, Blue Ocean Strategy is based on a study of 150 strategic moves spanning 100 years and 30 industries, and provides a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant and creating uncontested market space.
• Forrester Research, Getting Real Work Done In Virtual Worlds, by Erica Driver, Paul Jackson, with Connie Moore, Claire Schooley, Jamie Barnett, January 7, 2008,
o . . . it’s still early, pioneering days. You’ve practically got to be a gamer to use most of these tools — setup can be arduous, navigating in a 3-D environment takes practice, and processing and bandwidth requirements remain high. But within five years, the 3-D Internet will be as important for work as the Web is today. Information and knowledge management professionals should begin to investigate and experiment with virtual worlds. Use them to try to replicate the experience of working physically alongside others; allow people to work with and share digital 3-D models of physical or theoretical objects; and make remote training and counseling more realistic by incorporating nonverbal communication into same-time, different-place interactions.
• Kzero Universe Charts
o Virtual worlds, MMO companies by size, average user age and launch date
• Virtual Worlds Landscape, Barry Holroyd
FountainBlue’s September 30 Third Annual State of the Virtual Worlds Industry Event featured:
Facilitator Barry Holroyd, CTO, Masher Media
Panelist Andrea Leggett, Senior Product Marketing Manager, EMC
Panelist Dannette Veale, Virtual & Digital Technology Strategist, Cisco’s Global Sales Experience and Virtual Partner Summit
Presenting Entrepreneur Parvati Dev, President, Innovation in Learning
Presenting Entrepreneur Raj Raheja, Founder and CEO, Heartwood Studios
Presenting Entrepreneur Nanci Solomon, Founder and CEO, Xulu Entertainment
Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to EMC for graciously hosting us for this year’s annual event.