Tag Archives: Technion

Worth Reading 5/10/13

Things are quietly winding down here at Van Munching Hall as the students prepare for their last finals of the year.  The Dingman Center has also been quietly rumbling along, preparing for our last batch of Pitch Dingman Sessions and our upcoming summer programs. How’re you all preparing for the summer?  Whether it’s taking a vacation, or finally putting together that business you’ve been meaning to start, the Dingman Center will be here to support you.

So let’s move on to what’s worth reading.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Dingman Center’s week in the news.  In case you missed it, this week’s Business RX column in the Washington Post featured Elana Fine giving advice to TouchdownSpace, a startup looking to enter the virtual office industry.  In addition, Terpiture, one the finalists from last Friday’s Pitch Dingman Competition was featured on the University of Maryland school newspapaer, the Diamondback.

Often times, entrepreneurs have brainstorms for a business, but can’t articulate the actual business problem that their business idea will solve.  Well never fear, this inc.com piece gives you 4 steps to approach understanding your business problem.

Many of you may know that Israel is also known as start-up nation. In fact the center has been building a relationship with the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) for years now, even sending MBA students to Technion over the summer for an immersive entrepreneurial fellowship.  This latest inc.com article articulates just some of the lessons we can learn from the entrepreneurial culture in Israel.

As we’ve often seen, many of the technological innovations in the past few decades have come from military and government research, but did you also know that a lot of what we see as everyday items now actually originated from space?  Tested.com takes a look at a few surprising inventions that were actually developed by NASA for use in space!

And finally, in the debate for the importance of higher education in entrepreneurship and career success, the side of education finds a champion in a local VC. In this Huffington Post editorial, Jonathan Aberman, venture capitalist and lecturer at the Smith School of Business, gives his impassioned take on the importance of education to entrepreneurship and our society as a whole.

Tagged , , , , , ,

The End of an MBA’s Summer in the Start-up Nation

Israel is a start-up nation! The statistics say it all. Israel has the highest density of startups and these startups attract an enormous amount of venture capital – more venture capital per person than anywhere else in the world. And when it comes to R&D, no other country can compete.

When I lived in Tel Aviv, often times I’d forget that I was living in a country where a good part of it was covered by desolate deserts. What I encountered daily were people who were creative, driven, and who never took “no” for an answer. These characteristics – or chutzpah as some people may call it – have no doubt contributed to Israel’s spectacular economic success. One day over a coffee break, a co-worker at Medtronic and I discussed the economic downturn that the United States was facing and how it has affected people’s lives and the way people do business. We inevitably compared it with Israel’s economic situation  At the end of the conversation, the co-worker simply said, “Israel faces many challenges. It is small and lacks resources. However, that forced us to become more resourceful at solving our problems.”

What my co-worker said was consistent with what I observed. While I was in Israel, I rented a car so I could travel to other cities for sightseeing. Gas was very expensive, at least more expensive than what I was used to in the States – nearly $8 per gallon.   What stood out from all the many gas stations on the sides of the road were stations called Better Place. They are battery-swapping stations for electric cars.  Instead of waiting hours for an electric car to be charged, it only takes five minutes to change a battery. Just as electric cars were born out of the desperate need to wean away from oil, Better Place was founded on the idea that easy and simple battery replacement would convince more people to drive electric cars.  In Israel, whenever there is a need, there are entrepreneurs working on solutions.

Another Israeli technology that I found very useful was the iPhone app Waze (www.waze.com) – a community-based GPS traffic and navigation app. Before I headed out in my car, I would turn to Waze to get driving directions in English and, more importantly, to find out which streets were congested. I would rely on Waze to find the best route based on traffic patterns, to warn about road hazards (including speed cameras), and even to find the cheapest gas stations – all based on user-generated content. The idea for Waze originated when its founder was dissatisfied with traditional GPS devices that did not have the ability to characterize real time conditions. So a software engineer became an entrepreneur when he took actions to overcome the problem with a better invention.

A lot people have asked me about how I liked my trip in Israel. I have told many that I’d love to go visit again. This summer, I completed a course in Technology Commercialization at the Technion, had an amazing internship with Medtronic, and tasted some of the best food in Israel. Above all, it was an eye opening experience.

Allen Lu received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.  He completed his academic research training at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School and worked as an assay development scientist with Meso Scale Diagnostics.  At Smith, Allen is completing his MBA with a focus in Finance and Business Development.  He was recently in Israel as a Global Technology Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Technion and a business development intern at Medtronic WTC.

Tagged , , , , , ,

An MBA’s Summer in the Startup Nation

 Allen Lu, MBA Candidate 2013, is spending his summer in Israel, participating in a technology commercialization course at the Technion-Israeli Institute of Technology in Haifa and interning at Medtronic in Herzliya. 

The 2012 Israel Global Technology Entrepreneurship Fellowship kicked off with the ILSI-Biomed conference, which showcased innovations in the fast-growing biomedical, healthcare, and life science industries.

There is a strong relationship between academia and industry in Israel.  I was impressed to see both sides coming together to discuss university research and to explore opportunities for new business ventures.  Technology transfer centers such as Technion’s T3 and BioRap presented their latest inventions to investors and industry partners; while, executives from BioLineRx and Roche shared their success stories from partnering with academia to bring life-saving medicines from the bench to bedside.  The university business model began with teaching and then incorporated academic research; however, I feel the future success of the university will hinge on its ability to form strategic partnerships with industry through joint research and technology commercialization.


Even though this conference focused on Israel, the ideas shared where not bound by borders.  Multinational companies such as Life Technologies, Medtronic, TEVA, Johnson & Johnson, and Abbott all spoke regarding Israel’s spirit of entrepreneurship and the global impact of its innovations.  I was most impressed by Dr. Stephen Oesterle, Sr. VP of Medicine and Technology at Medtronic, who shared his insights on the urgent need to think differently about how we develop medical devices for the developing world.  The largest healthcare market is China – but in order to penetrate that market, Oesterle stressed the need for infrastructure development, physician and patient education, and most importantly, the need for affordable technologies.  Applying the principles of reverse innovation, Israel can partner with China to develop affordable medical devices first for the developing world and then bring these technologies back to developed countries such as the United States.

After Oesterle’s keynote, I developed the chutzpah to approach him and affirmed Medtronic’s mission of delivering affordable world-class healthcare not only the US and Europe, but also the developing world.  Supportive of my endeavor, he referred me to Medtronic’s office in Herzliya where I am now working with Judith Gal, General Manager for Medtronic Israel, on a business development project in making Medtronic technologies affordable to developing nations.

If you’re interested in bio-entrepreneurship, I highly recommend you attend ILSI-BioMed 2013.  I know I will be there!

Allen Lu received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering and M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.  He completed his academic research training at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard Medical School and worked as an assay development scientist with Meso Scale Diagnostics.  At Smith, Allen is completing his MBA with a focus in Finance and Business Development.  He is currently in Israel as a Global Technology Entrepreneurship Fellow at the Technion and a business development intern at Medtronic WTC.

Tagged , , , ,

An MBA Student’s Take on China

Everything in my Washington, D.C. apartment had been to China but me. The Rogue acoustic guitar I was learning to play Greenday songs on? Chinese. The University of Maryland sunglasses I’m packing for the trip? From China. Even the “Japanese” Toshiba laptop I typed this on was actually made in China. Once, I bought frozen organic broccoli at our local Whole Foods Market. I honestly assumed I was doing my part in reducing my carbon footprint, but printed in unmistakable 6-point font on the edge of the bag: Product of China.

This January, I joined forty of my classmates from the full-time, part-time and executive MBA programs at Smith, along with a couple masters and undergraduate students and two MBAs from the Technion in Israel in making the trip to China for the 2012 edition of the Dingman Center’s China Business Plan Competition trip. We were all super excited to see how entrepreneurs fit into China’s “harmonious society.” We toured factories, met with business owners and managers, and did a little sightseeing, too. Learning about doing business in China was nothing short of amazing.

We began our trip with a visit to the U.S. Embassy office. Kevin and Sally, two state department employees, gave a fascinating overview of the business climate in China. It’s a wondrous, fast changing place, they said. There is a lot of money to be made…

…as long as you are very, very careful.

IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) is a phantom! Enforcement of law is more political than judicial! This room you’re sitting in is bugged, and if you brought a computer on this trip, know that the government has already hacked into it! We heard stories of Chinese-U.S. business partnerships going sour for all sorts of reasons. “Do heavy due diligence on your Chinese partners before you make deals,” they told us. “You don’t want to hear the phone calls we get every day.” More than one head was spinning as we headed back to the bus.

A thought-provoking afternoon of speakers from the law firm Jones Day, Venture Capital group CVCA and accounting firm Bernstein Pinchuk lead us to a delicious banquet at Jin Xiang You. Chinese students competing in the next day’s competition met us for the dinner. Much of the conversation focused on the complicated rules of dining etiquette, though a few custom business pitches were passed around the tables as well.

The competition finals at Beida, the so-called “Harvard of China,” were electric. Teams had traveled from as far as 13 hours away by train, with diverse ideas from increasing rail efficiency in northern coal mining cities to teaching newborn babies to read. “Tenacity,” a team of Chinese undergraduate students from near Shanghai, took first place with their idea for an innovative new cane for the blind.  The students proposed a “smart walking stick” that used radars to precisely identify obstacles in the path of a blind person.

Grand Prize Winners from Zhejiang University

Second place went to Smith first-year MBA Marvin Yueh. Along with his partner, first-year MBA Angela Suthrave (not present on the China trip), Marvin has been working on Live-a-Betes, a program of lifestyle education for people who have diabetes.

Second Place Team, Live-a-betes, from the University of Maryland

Smith E-MBA team “Integrata” also placed, winning with their  comprehensive personal executive security system. Honorable mentions went to Smith teams Comrade Brewing, Avatravel and Spark Computing.

In two more days of company visits after the competition, we had our preconceptions challenged again and again. We took a bullet train to visit factories in Tianjin, a huge quickly-developing city closer to the coast. After passing hundreds of boring 30-story apartment buildings that seemed randomly sprinkled along the hour-long rail route, we went right into the boring one-story warehouse buildings where all those people work.

We talked with managers who run the composites factory that makes airplane components for Boeing; saw the manufacturing lines for 20,000 Otis Elevator parts, and even glimpsed the clean rooms where 36,000 bottles of Pepsi get filled every hour, 24/7/365 [read about us inadvertently shutting down the line on the trip blog here]. We met with TenCent, the enormous internet service provider responsible for QQ and several other popular Chinese social media apps. We heard about IPR struggles at Danfoss, as well as the major benefits of doing business in such a huge, dynamic market.

After a week of inside views and privileged conversations I was even more amazed and impressed by the Chinese business world.  What’s more, the Dingman Center’s China trip highlighted for me the beauty of the Smith MBA. We learn about business globalization in the classroom from top-rated faculty, then travel to business hotspots to test what we’ve learned. Whether with CIBER, Dingman or student-initiated trips, classrooms are only one part of our Smith education.

Frankie Abralind, MBA Candidate 2012

Frankie Abralind loves selling new ideas. Before pursuing his MBA, he operated what was once Maryland’s largest biodiesel plant, having designed the facility himself. In the years after finishing his undergraduate degree in Interior Architecture at Cornell University, Frankie also worked as a grassroots organizer fighting global warming, founded and published a real paper magazine with thousands of readers, and learned to love performing improv comedy. Frankie came to the Smith School of Business to learn how to start a profitable business that would make a difference. He’s now the president of the entrepreneurship club.


Tagged , , , , , , ,