Thursday, June 22, 2006

Support for the Balkan region

Prof Mojmir Mrak, University of Ljubljana, Dr. Boris Cizelj, Director SBRA, Ivan Čehok Mayor of Varaždin, Dženana Abdalajbegović, Head of Cabinet Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liljana Božovič, Directorate for SME Development Montenegro.

The Balkan countries are really cool. They were always considered the outside troublemakers by the old Europe, but are fast becoming a part of Europe. I admit there are still a few issues to deal with, mildly speaking. Ethnical, national and border disputes may still destabilize the region, but I strongly believe that the best way to democracy, growth and political and legal stability is free trade, bilateral contacts and closer cooperation with the EU.

The region south east of Europe has created its own cultural and national profile. They are really a fresh breeze to the old conservative Europe. I like cross-culture – be it nations or regions. In the long run they usually are the most innovative and progressive, and make the best food.

I have spent a week in a warm (+31C) Solvenia at the European Regional Economic Forum 2006 in Nova Gorica , discussing how to build regional innovation support for the knowledge society.

Balkan have made great progress the last few years. GDP is around 5 %, with Albania and Turkey far above the average. Inflation is under 4 %, except for Serbia, Turkey and Romania. The only countries that have a large fiscal imbalance are Albania and Croatia. The trade increases 11 % a year. Except for Turkey all countries have put their debt on a sound basis.

It was interesting to get the many different opinions from the regional authorities on the competitiveness of their neighbors. Some claimed that Croatia (Hrvatska) has the real potential as the next tourist paradise; others promoted great media business opportunities in Serbia (Republika Srbija). Romania is supposed to be excellent for real estate investments and Albania should have surprisingly professional technical development resources. But every one also blamed each other for instability, corruption, complex bureaucracy and arbitrary judiciary systems.

Personally I fell for Montenegro, the brand new small nation. They had a very professional presentation on their strategy for small and medium sized business. (I know, it’s very much marketing!) Montenegro is a pet for the European Commission, who would very much like to show that conflicts can be solved by peaceful democratic measures.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

MPAA and the Swedish government – part 2

The story continues. Today the Swedish Minister of Justice, Tomas Bodström, confirmed that the recent police action against Swedish file-sharing website ThePirateBay was prompted by pressure from the White House on the Swedish government.

The U.S. embassy in Sweden warned the Swedish government that if they did not act, the U.S. government would put Sweden on the WTO warning list for countries non-compliant in copyright enforcement. Podcast from Swedish Public Radio (Real Audio).

Also Expressen, one of the largest Swedish evening paper, reveal that the MPAA hired a Swedish private detective to spy on Tobias Andersson, Piratbyrån, the political party (sort of) behind ThePirateBay.

It’s beginning to look like a B-movie.

(Don’t get me wrong. I still think intellectual property must be protected, within reason.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

MPAA forced Swedish Government to raid PirateBay

According documents published by (Swedish Public Service TV) the U.S. government forced the Swedish government to shut down ThePirateBay.

The documents published by SVT shows that John G Malcolm, Chairman of the Motion Picture Association of Amercia, MPAA, sent a letter to the Swedish Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström, requesting the Swedish government take action against ThePirateBay, refeering to a meeting in last year.

April 10 The Swedish ministry of Justice answered that the Swedish government “will not hesitate to initiate further measures.”

May 31 Swedish police raided ThePirateBay. (Washington Post)

It is interesting to note that the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) can declare Sweden non-compliant in copyright enforcement, which would allow the US to place trade sanctions on Sweden.

I dislike piracy as intellectual property rights is a base for modern society. But the Swedish police, and now the Swedish government, have acted incompetent and unprofessional. Ministerial government is illegal in Sweden. (When the government orders the administration to do something in a particular case.)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Guinea pig for innovative e-diary

A friend of mine suggested that I should volunteer as a guinea pig in a research project on interactive electronic diaries called Affective Diary. It is a project at the Interaction Lab at Swedish Institute of Computer Science SICS, in cooperation with Microsoft Research. The idea is to develop the concept of diary and add physical experiences and emotions; what the research group refers to as “affective body memorabilia”.

A body sensor captures data from the user such as pulse, movements etc, and uploads it via a cell phone to the electronic diary.

The data is interpreted by the diary software as a Barbapapa figure that changes color and shape according to your emotions. Well, sort of. The diary looks like a cartoon strip where the Barbapapa falls over and gets blue if you are calm, and stands up and becomes red if you are excited. In the diary you can also put SMS and MMS messages, photographs, make notes, etc.

I’m a guinea pig for three weeks. More bulletins on the project’s progress further on.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

University of the Future – is the Swedish Model optimal?

The Swedish delegation from VINNOVA, Chalmers, Gothenburg University, KTH and The Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences posing outside The HP Garage, the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

At Stanford again, just five days after the last workshop and barely un-jetlagged. This time it’s a workshop on the future of Swedish universities and university colleges with a focus on the ‘third role’ (samverkansuppgiften).

Universities have emerged as central actors in today’s knowledge-based economy. Their traditional role to provide society with research and well educated and talented people, have been extended to also influence social, cultural and economic development in society.

More and more emphasis is put on the way that new knowledge from research efforts is cared for and further developed. Universities are increasingly viewed as key drivers of innovation and ‘major agents of economic growth’. Research provides the key foundations for innovation which directly contributes to improved economic growth, productivity and quality of life, especially job creation and public awareness.

Can a combined “push” and “pull” in knowledge creation generate mutual satisfaction for the researcher and the stakeholders in the surrounding society? This question is highly relevant since public-funded research is intended to benefit the society as a whole, not just a single institution or a single researcher.

At the same time, researchers should, through competitive funding, be able to freely select the research field of their choice. Development of dynamic and open research environments with infrastructure and support system for profiled unique strength could attract and host researchers with diversity in depth and breadth of scientific interest. Research for research owns sake can thereby connect to more systematic and need-inspired research with a mutual benefit.

It can also be expected that the general public, politicians and media will increasingly question and scrutinize how knowledge is mediated and money is used in public-funded research.

  • There are dramatic changes in how business performs research – tighter collaborations and even outsourcing to universities and research agencies is increasingly the case for major companies.
  • Society generally is giving universities a central role – and universities are struggling to keep pace with demands made upon then.
  • Governments everywhere are trying to create more innovative and competitive economies.

In an international comparison, there are some unique elements in the structure of Swedish research. The most significant and essential is the so-called “Swedish Model.” Universities and University Colleges are the country’s main research resource. The postgraduate student system is well developed and to a large extent involved in bringing the latest knowledge into society as they complete their studies in higher education.

The Swedish research institute sector is, at the same time, much smaller than in many other countries. As a result, universities are expected to engage in outreach activities and cooperation with the surrounding world. This is referred to as the “third mission, third stream or third task” which means that universities have the principal responsibility for applied research, implementation of research results and assigned education.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What? On Gothenburg Bio region

Paul och Aase
Originally uploaded by Innovation Journalism.
Paul Gatenholm, Professor of Biopolymer Technology at Chalmers, and Aase Bodin, PhD student at Chalmers, tries to understand what Martin Wallin is talking about.

SWOT on Gothenburg Bio region

Martin Wallin
Originally uploaded by Innovation Journalism.
Martin Wallin, PhD student from Chalmers, explains his SWOT analysis (or whatever it was) on the Gothenburg Biotech region. Martin was emphasizing that the process of planning is more important than the plan, quoting Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) a Prussian soldier and a brilliant military theorist. He gained international fame when his book On War was posthumously published by his wife in 1832. On War is a three-volume masterpiece. In this book, he reduced military operations to a science.