Pairing up startups with large local corporates for greater success

@ShridharShukla points us to an interesting Chicago Tribune, with example of how large companies in Illinois, USA are connecting with local startups to tap the “innovation pipeline”, and at the same time improve the chances of the startup succeeding.

This news item should be especially interesting to the Pune tech and startup ecosystem because PuneConnect, a local initiative of Software Exporters Association of Pune (SEAP), PuneTech, Pune Open Coffee Club, and a bunch of other organizations has been trying to do something similar in Pune for the last 3 years.

The folks in Illinois have slightly different methods, which we should study and implement locally.


When Cheryl Harris sought to bring fresh ideas in analytics, data crunching and cyber security to top brass at Allstate Corp., she tapped a startup pipeline engineered to save Illinois companies time and money.

Harris and others at Allstate, who were accustomed to an eight-step procurement process that resulted in months of waiting, were skeptical they could learn most of what they needed in a 10-minute pitch from people they’d never met in the Illinois Corporate/Startup Challenge.


Equal parts shark tank pitch competition, and “American Idol,” the program solicits the interests of big companies, gathers suggestions for prospective matches from the portfolios of local incubators and venture firms, and allows the companies to select which will present their solutions to corporate brass.

and finally:

By pairing scale-up companies with corporate mentors, however, the odds of success improve. At the same time, firms eager to stay abreast of fast-paced innovation outside corporate walls can engage with firms earlier, experts say.

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Vaclav Smil on why we need manufacturing, vegetarianism, and less innovation

When Bill Gates says:

I’ve talked before about my favorite author Vaclav Smil. He doesn’t pull any punches in this @WIRED interview

I know it will be an interview worth reading. So I head over and find an excellent interview with Vaclav Smil

Here are some excerpts:

Let’s talk about manufacturing. You say a country that stops doing mass manufacturing falls apart. Why?

In every society, manufacturing builds the lower middle class. If you give up manufacturing, you end up with haves and have-nots and you get social polarization. The whole lower middle class sinks.


Restoring manufacturing would mean training Americans again to build things?

Only two countries have done this well: Germany and Switzerland. They’ve both maintained strong manufacturing sectors and they share a key thing: Kids go into apprentice programs at age 14 or 15. You spend a few years, depending on the skill, and you can make BMWs. And because you started young and learned from the older people, your products can’t be matched in quality. This is where it all starts.

On food:

Your other big subject is food. You’re a pretty grim thinker, but this is your most optimistic area. You actually think we can feed a planet of 10 billion people—if we eat less meat and waste less food.

We pour all this energy into growing corn and soybeans, and then we put all that into rearing animals while feeding them antibiotics. And then we throw away 40 percent of the food we produce.

Meat eaters don’t like me because I call for moderation, and vegetarians don’t like me because I say there’s nothing wrong with eating meat. It’s part of our evolutionary heritage! Meat has helped to make us what we are. Meat helps to make our big brains. The problem is with eating 200 pounds of meat per capita per year. Eating hamburgers every day. And steak.

You know, you take some chicken breast, cut it up into little cubes, and make a Chinese stew—three people can eat one chicken breast. When you cut meat into little pieces, as they do in India, China, and Malaysia, all you need to eat is maybe like 40 pounds a year.

On “innovation” as the solution to all our problems:

“Let’s not reform the education system, the tax system. Let’s not improve our dysfunctional government. Just wait for this innovation manna from a little group of people in Silicon Valley, preferably of Indian origin.”

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