At this year’s EARTO conference we (EARTO, Forschung Austria and Salzburg Research) organised a workshop on “new funding models for RTOs”. The idea behind the workshop was that governmental funding of (basic) research is on the decline. Philanthropists like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Eric Schmidt, … appear on stage: but is Philanthropy in the age of the new economy an alternative for RTOs? Would they fund technological research? And, as tech giants like Apple or Intel grew with venture capital: what role does venture capital play in research funding?
Or, alternatively: what role can crowdfunding play in financing research (BTW, on March 27, 2014, the Commission released a communication entitled “Unleashing the potential of Crowdfunding in the European Union”).
In her initial presentation, Maria Khorsand, CEO of SP Technical Research Institute in Sweden talked about the “Funding model of the new ASTA ZERO” – this is a 50 Mio. EUR research & testing infrastructure that has been financed by government, research institutes and a loan. A complex untertaking!
Following on to that, Reinhard Willfort (via the voice of Georg Kalandra), Director ISN – Innovation Service Network in Austria spoke about “Crowdfunding & Crowdsourcing as alternative funding model”.
Questions we discussed
- especially with respect to open infrastructures: how can we make sure that there is no – or not too much – dependency and therefore influence between funding bodies and users?
- how do RTOs formally do with loans?
- is it possible to re-finance such huge infrastructures with projects? How can we charge costs to them?
- are RTOs ready for crowdfunding? Are they willing to share their ideas (and business models) openly?
- using crowdfunding, how can we still protect IPRs?
- would large RTOs be accepted by the crowd? I.e., wouldn’t the supporters expect someone with a garage rather than a Fraunhofer institute?
- will we be able to finance large infrastructures (like the 50 Mio. EUR ASTA Zero) through crowdfunding? (Note: right now, there are rather low funding limits for Austria and Germany)
- and many more!
Iñaki San Sebastian from Tecnalia did an excellent job as rapporteur.
May 11th, 2014
At Salzburg Research, together with ITG Salzburg, Neurovation and HTL Salzburg, we organized and realized a project on crowd funding students’ innovation projects. See the (German) web-site at http://www.salzburgresearch.at/presseaussendung/crowdfunding-fuer-maturaprojekte-der-htl-salzburg/.
What is the basic idea?
Students in their school leaving examinations (“Matura”) often do smart projects that benefit from an early sharpening of their ideas and more importantly from donations and funding. Therefore, we thought that funding through the crowd, i.e., friends, family but also companies and the public, could help in realizing these often highly innovative projects; that sometime also lead to start-ups!
Now, here is an overview of the projects that emerged from HTL Salzburg: https://htl.neurovation.net/de/SNIP?backlink=de/competitions_all. Two of these projects realized the full funding they needed:
February 20th, 2014
The new issue of HMD is out: it is on Human Computer Interaction, see http://www.dpunkt.de/hmdissues/294/. This special issue covers aspects such as 3D avatars, smart home, technostress, etc. and also strategic experience management, which IMHO is key due to its methodological approach to cover HCI.
And: it may be worth telling that after some 15 years, from 2014 onwards HMD moves from dpunkt-Verlag to Springer-Verlag. This has been an intensely discussed decision by the management board of dpunkt as well as the editorial board of HMD – I wish HMD all the success it needs in addressing the market of applied research in computer science publications!!!
December 8th, 2013
, a lawyer, started by outlining the legal aspects of one’s digital identity on the Internet. Pretty complex! The Internet has its (legal) regulations. However, there are many and diverse rights; they are interpreted sometimes differently; and of course they are diverging.
Lieutenant colonel Franz Lang
argued about the (technical) complexity of digital traces, cybercrime, … He mentioned the simple mindedness of many on the Internet (Facebook Parties as one example, also the naming of a bridge after Chuck Norris
in Lower Austria). In conclusion his message was/is: we need to strengthen education in Internet technologies/tools so that people are more proficient in handling Web 2.0 rather than defining rules.
Prof. Thomas Corsten
then argued for historical perspectives on identity (starting on ancient Greece). In summary: there is no clear definition/picture on identities from a historical perspective. In particular, religion has a limited contribution to identity; language a bit more, but still it does not define identity.
Stefan Bumerl, CEO of Cryptas
, then brought in the technical and business aspects of identity. There is a need for a well defined eco-system; and: concepts are one thing – for services to be accepted, users need a clear benefit.
Last but not least, Prof. Ivona Brandic from TU-Vienna
, started introducing technical foundations that are necessary for managing (digital) identities and moved on the typical applications.
My personal conclusions:
- Just like you have several identities (or roles) in real life, you have that on the Internet as well.
- In addition to that, you have various levels of trust: online bank services need to be treated differently to Facebook likes.
- Thus, there is tradeoff and/or a weighing of competing interests and values (“Güterabwägung”) with respect to the tools and methods chosen.
- Technologies and concepts in the digital world are changing so fast that you may not rely on rules. Rather education plays an increasingly important role.
August 25th, 2013
… from a talk by Richard Gutjahr (see http://gutjahr.biz) held quite a while ago at the 9th Medientag, Salzburg. He argued that many broadcast organisations think they have understood that – in contrast to earlier days – there now is a backchannel from their customers (via interactive TV-boxes, for instance). In the animated figure below, this would be the difference between (1) and (2).
However, in reality the users interact much more between themselves (via social media such as twitter, facebook, etc.) and they do not need the link to the broadcasters (any more). See step (3) in the figure below. Hence, the broadcasters are somewhat out of the game.
Here is the animated figure I drew from the presentation by Gutjahr:
February 22nd, 2013
… the increasing availability of data (open, closed, masses, etc.) is influencing the way we do research. This has many implications: we need new/different types of infrastructure (more storage, more processing power), there will be more transparency in research, and, above all, we may even not need scientific theories any more. At least this is how Chris Anderson argues in this short Wired Article (available as http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/16-07/pb_theory).
As a a computer scientist, this also reminds me the so-called “4th paradigm”, see e.g. a talk by Jim Gray in January 2007 (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/gray/JimGrayTalks.htm). Again, what can we take from that:
- There are some domains that are (inherently) well suited for data-intensive scientific discovery (earth science, medicine); still, these are just prominent examples
- There is a need and first efforts towards building tools and infrastructures
- Open access is an important aspect
As a consequence, we’ll need to change the way we educate students (both on master and PhD level); perhaps before that, we’ll change the way we do research. And to some degree this raises questions whether we still need (traditional) researchers at all: wouldn’t clever data analysts be able to do the job as well? For many (most?) purposes we do not need theories. We have the data, we can derive the models and thus can explain the world is working.
November 27th, 2012
… haven’t tried to publish there, perhaps it is worthwhile giving it a try
In the store you get your own gear, see http://www.universalrejection.org/
October 12th, 2012
A new publication in HMD – Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik: Mobile Computing (edited together with Stefan Meinhardt from SAP).
Available now, also as eBook.
August 22nd, 2012
The Austrian Council for Research and Technology Development has just published a study on “increasing private funding for “R&D” (the study actually is in German, it is available from http://www.rat-fte.at/tl_files/uploads/Studien/Publiktionen/2012_Strategien%20zur%20Erhoehung%20der%20privaten%20Forschung.pdf). The study has been done by Hannes Leo.
During the last decade, Austria’s RTI (Research, Technology and Innovation) System developed further: some say that Austria closed the gap between being an “innovation follower” and the group of “innovation leaders” (IMHO we have not quite closed that gap but still, the direction is right and the dynamics were good!).
Much of that development was due to public funding – what is being analysed in the study is the current state of private funding in Austria (and Europe) and how private funding could be increased.
In the study, Hannes Leo starts by analysing the situation of private funding (“sponsoring” one might even say) in general. It is shown that the landscape in Europe is not as elaborated as in the US; and even within Europe there are tremendous differences. From that perspective, Leo argues for an enormous potential in Austria: there are private foundations but there is (yet) no philanthropical culture as in Germany or Switzerland: for instance, private and non-private foundations donate in Austria 4 EUR per inhabitant (and year): in CH the corresponding value is EUR 109; and in DE EUR 183(!). And therefore, if that gap was closed in would be of great benefit mostly to basic research – which anyway is a sector that has somehow been neglected and only recently gets more attention.
So, in conclusion, what do we need to increase philanthropical funding in Austria? According to Hannes Leo, we need
- better legal regulations for private foundations
- increased network activities between foundations, i.e., more exchange, etc.
- better public relations for private foundations
Overall, an interesting study well worth reading!
August 5th, 2012
… two brilliant figures:
Both images are amazing – and they demonstrate how much we rely on the Internet as a backend infrastructure for whatever we are doing!
August 5th, 2012