December 6, 2011
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June 24, 2011
Anita M. Harris is president of the Harris Communications Group, a public relations and marketing communications firm in Cambridge, MA.
The Celebration of Innovation in Kendall Sq—held on April 29 at MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research-– definitely lived up to its title.
Among other innovations I’m still celebrating:
- A university president (Susan Hockfield of MIT) walked over, introduced herself and actually seemed interested in learning about ME.
- 21 speakers got through their material in 25 minutes, total. (Good thing, because the audience of approximately 150 stood, sipping wine, throughout).
- Living” bronzed” statues of dead inventors Ben Franklin, Ada Lovelace, and Thomas Edison walked silently around the room–stopping, occasionally, to pose for photos.
- Rudi Belliardi of the Wellington-Harrington Neighborhood Association described the development of polarizing lenses and quinine
- Daniel Heller, a fellow at the Koch Institute, said that the Robert Langer Lab, where he works, is seeking ways to target cancer using nanotechnology.
- Barbara Broussard, president of the East Cambridge Planning Team, spoke about the development of synthetic penicillin.
- Noubar Afeyan, chair and co-founder of Joule Unlimited, explained how his company is developing renewable fuels from waste carbon dioxide.
- Dan O’Connell, president and CEO of the Mass Competitive Partnership, provided an overview of economic development in the Kendall Square Area.
- Alex Laats, partner Commonwealth Capital Ventures, outlined the origins and importance of the Internet.
- Bill Aulet, managing director of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center, spoke about the rise of entrepreneurs.
- Yi-Han Ma, co-president of the MIT Sloan Venture Capital and Private Equity Club, went into the growth of the venture capital industry.
- Tim Rowe, Founder and CEO of the Cambridge Innovation Center, and President of the Kendall Square Association, described the area as a “Startup Hive.”
- Cambridge Mayer David Maher introduced the topic of “community;” Margaret Drury, the Cambridge City Clerk, described her pride at officiating at the nation’s first same-sex marriage ceremony.
- John Durant, Director of the MIT Museum, told us about the upcoming weekend’s Cambridge Science Festival.
- Program directors Rebecca Gallo and Caitlin McCormick, described their work at the East End House; children Selena, Nubian, Ralph and Christelle acted out roles to bring out the current and historic importance of the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House to the city’s immigrant population.
- Jane Hirschi, Executive Director of CitySprouts, explained the importance of school gardens and kids growing food.
- Travis McCready, Executive Director of the Kendall Square Association, described a recent low-tech camping experience in order to emphasize the growing role of technology in daily life.
- Gavin Kleespies, Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Society–which provided historical background for the event– spoke on the development of microwave Radar
- Susan Athey, Harvard Economics Professor and Microsoft’s Chief Economist, described the growth of Internet search–confessing that, perhaps for obvious reasons, she is biased toward Microsoft’s Bing.
- Roscoe Thomas, the Area IV Neighborhood Coordinator, told of the trials and tribulations experienced by Elias Howe before he became the first in the US to patent a sewing machine.
- Rod Brooks, MIT Professor Emeritus and Founder of Heartland Robotics and iRobot, spoke on the past and future of robotics.
May 11, 2011
Xconomy senior correspondent and San Francisco editor Wade Roush says he’s done with news embargoes.
In a column entitled, “The News Embargo Is Dead. Tech Crunch Killed It. Let’s Move On,” he writes that he’ll no longer agree to being “pre-briefed” by tech companies or PR firms with the understanding that he’ll wait to publish until the stories are made public— because he’s been burned one too many times.
What happened? TechCrunch went to press early with an embargoed story that he was also covering–making him look like an “also ran.”
April 26, 2011
Earlier this month, I attended a great MIT Enterprise Forum discussion on new medical devices designed to provide low cost tests far from laboratories or medical centers, in the developing world.
At the meeting, held by the Forum’s Health Care and Life Science Special Interest Group at the British Consulate in Cambridge, former Mass Biotechnology Council President Una Ryan described the paper-based medical testing technology that her new nonprofit enterprise, Diagnostics for All (DFA), has licensed from the George Whitesides Lab, at Harvard.
The technology allows bodily fluid to accumulate in patterns on postage-stamp sized pieces of paper–to be used for multiple tests simultaneously. DFA’s first project, funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a liver function test to monitor the effects of drugs for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, to help manage viral hepatitis. Such tests, which ordinarily require laboratory evaluation, will first be sold in convenience stores in Africa at a cost of approximately ten cents each, Ryan said.
Bill Rodriguez, CEO of Daktari Diagnostics, showed a handheld, point of care, battery-operated diagnostics device the size of a small lunch box or portable radio that will first be used to test for AIDS in Africa–at a cost of $1.50 per test–starting next year. He pointed out that while drugs are available to treat the 33 million people worldwide who have HIV– “ten million of them don’t know it.”
Scientia Advisors Partner Arshad Ahmed, who served as moderator, (and is my client) pointed out in a recent blog that emerging markets may have the opportunity to adopt the latest point-of-care products, leapfrogging developed countries, in some instances–and that “emerging markets are where we will see the first application of low cost and inovative disruptive technologies at work.” Launching in the developing world allows companies to test out and market technologies before going through the rigorous approval process required in the developed world.
I was blown away by the prospects for devices like these and asked when and how they will affect the costs and structure of, say, US healthcare–and whether those who make and market our costly technologies will try to keep these new testing devices out. While Ryan, whose nonprofit will have a commercial wing, responded that she does not expect opposition from stakeholders in our current system. But can that possibly be right?
Anita M. Harris
Anita M. Harris is President of the Harris Communications Group, a marketing and public relations firm specializing in health, science and technology industries, worldwide.