Category: Conferences

BC Technology Industry Association

Had a quick lunch and rushed into a meeting with Cindy Pearson (Vice President & COO, BC Technology Industry Association). Cindy gave me a good overview of the technology industry in British Columbia. The industry is very dynamic and growing rapidly.

What’s even more impressive is the support structure around the industry. While there is some public funds available (not nearly as much as is available in the UK), the industry and the association has largely bootstrapped themselves into existence and growth.

I shared with her the technology sector in the West Midlands and the UK and specifically our ICT Cluster. I invited Cindy to visit us on her next trip to the UK and meet some of our industry leaders.

There are opportunities for companies on both sides of the pond to work with each other and form closer relationships.

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit International Forum

I had a pleasure of being on the panel of International Forum with Tony Fish (Co-Founder, AMF Ventures, UK), Jeanette Kopak (Director Project Operations, Centre for Digital Media, Canada), and Jim Baker (Chief Marketing Officer, Icomera, Sweden). The discussion was moderated by Peter Lesyk (Director Business Development, TELUS).

Jeanette demonstrated Movisphere, application that the students at the Centre for Digital Media created for Telefonica, Spain. Movisphere is a multi-platform, massively multiplayer online game where a player can seamlessly switch between desktop computers and mobile phones.

I did a presentation on the West Midlands’ Bridge to Growth program. The presentation was well received with several members wondering if other countries have similar programs. Jim Baker who is currently looking at locations in both the US and Canada for setting up his North American operations commented he wished a similar initiative was in place somewhere in North America.

Jim and Tony, both veterans of international business, commented the need to thoroughly understand legal and cultural differences when doing business across international borders. They mentioned that products and service that needs to be approved by government agencies could be a major stumbling block in international trade. Telecommunication equipment that uses different spectrum for example is one such hindrance.

Recommendation: Seek professional advice when venturing into international trade, but don’t let that be a barrier to lucrative markets for your products.

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit Specialized Forums

Summit had several intensive discussion sessions throughout the day.  Discussions were generally arranged around investment, technology, international market sand education.

Investment panels were around the topic of raising funds for start-up ventures and how to engage carriers (financially and as partners) with your company.  Focus of the discussions took into account the current investment and economic conditions.  While it is relatively easier to raise money during boom times, but money is still available during the economic downturn.  Venture capitalist work harder to find the right company during this times and work even harder to make those companies successful.

Education forums were moderated by Nokia University Relations group.  They showcased several projects at the University of British Columbia and the Simon Fraser University.  Nokia is actively involved in several universities globally, encouraging innovative idea development by professors, research teams and students.

Discussion about technical and business challenges facing start-up companies was moderated by Brian Roberts (Vice President of Business Development, Wavefront).  Steve Morley (Former VP Technology, Qualcomm) again stressed the importance of keeping things simple and focus on the customer not the technology.

Stephen King talked about Mob4Hire and how the crowed sourced testing is not only feasible but affordable, giving better results than just testing on few handsets.

All in all, the theme of the conference was that opportunities are still available despite credit crunch, downward trending economy and technical challenges.  Key is to focus on the right things and developing right relationships with the right organizations.

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit Keynotes

Following on from the Leadership Forum yesterday, had a great, information packed Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit today. The conference theme was around Ideas, Innovation, Insight and Investment.

The morning started with keynote speakers from a cross section of the wireless industry, including researchers, venture capitalists and companies.

Tom Huseby (SeaPoint Ventures, Seattle) said this is the best time to start a company. Investment funds, he said, is still available for the right companies. Problem is that people are too concerned about the current economic climate, when they should be focused on creating for the future. Companies that are developing for the upcoming boom in the mobile market will be the winners in 2010 and beyond.

Video courtesy of Bruce Sharpe

Interestingly, Dr. Gerry Chan (Communications Research Centre, Canada) mentioned one of the frustration for his team has been that not enough academics are commercializing their research. Dr. Chan is passionate about changing that in Canada and his organization is encouraging funded researchers to become more entrepreneurial in their outlook.

Keynote session was followed by several intense specialized forums throughout the day and the Summit ended with an upbeat Award Gala dinner

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit Leadership Forum

Pacific Northwest Wireless Summit 2009 kicked off today in Vancouver, Canada with an amazing Leadership Forum. The Forum was held on the 29th floor of Fasken Martineau‘s offices in downtown Vancouver. During the conference, the fog lifted momentarily to give us a great view of Vancouver waterfront with the Grouse Mountain in the background. Vancouver is a beautiful town, no doubts there.

But back to the Forum. The lineup of speakers was great. Steve Morley (20th employee at Qualcomm and its former VP Technology) stressed that start-up companies should not focus on their technology, but rather their customers. A common sense idea which unfortunately is not very common in the technology start-up world. Reminded me of a phrase Silicon Valley VC often used: technology is only a ticket to the game, not the game itself. The game is business, unfortunately too many companies get wrapped up in the (perceived) greatness of their technology that they forget all about the customer.

Dr. Wang Jing (Secretary-General & Senior Advisor at TD-SCDMA Forum, China), provided a great overview of the telecommunications industry in China. The market leaders, players and most importantly where the current and future opportunities are. Chinese market is growing by leaps and bounds and while major players dominate certain markets (carriers, for example) significant opportunities still exist for start-ups and smaller companies.

While Dr. Jing did not discuss the content space in the Chinese market, I believe there are great opportunities in that space, not only in China, but globally. Specifically, locally relevant content, especially when combined with user selected location based content. This market is ripe for explosion and quite a few interesting start-up companies are working in this area. Canpages, for example is working on the mobile version of their yellow pages. The demo on the iPhone was quite impressive.

Anshu Agarwal (VP Marketing, Keynote Systems) took us through his crystal ball and what the future holds for the next few years. The interesting part of his presentation was how he arrived at the future prediction based on recent innovations in the market place. If Anshu’s predictions are correct, the mobile industry is ready for a major surge, with innovative products hitting the market over the next 18 to 36 months.

Besides the presenters, there were several panel discussions, including a thought provoking panel led by Tony Fish (Co-Founder, AMF Ventures, UK) on convergence (sorry Tony, I owe you a dollar for using the C word) in the mobile industry.

All in all a great Forum. Thank you Michael Bidu and Christina Chowaniec of WINBC for putting together a great event.

5th Annual West Midlands ICT Cluster Conference

The West Midlands 2008 ICT Cluster Conference was held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull, UK. Now in its 5th year, the event was packed with great sessions, including an interesting session on EU funding sources.

The evening awards ceremony was quite exciting, including wins for CandiTV and Rapide Commuications.

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