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Top universities: new players in the global game of power?

Society February 15th, 2017, Cédric Denis-Rémis & Armand Hatchuel / Deputy Director of Mines ParisTech (PSL Université Paris) & Professor at Mines Paristech, Chair of Design Theory and Methodes for Innovation

The term university covers a wide range of institutions. In time, this diversity could narrow down to two main types of universities: a local model, with institutes and Bachelor degrees related to regional development; a global model, including prototypes such as Harvard or Oxford, and emerging players in Europe or China. These world-class universities can be seen as a new type of universal power.

The City and the Valley: how Tech is impacting San Francisco and vice versa

Society January 8th, 2017, Olivier Alexandre / Sociologist, Labex Icca and Cems-Imm/EHESS PSL Research University

The Bay area is not only an economic reality with a level of investments, quantifiable turnover, number of unicorns or tech business stock market. It is also a territory that stages its own history. Stretching over a hundred kilometers, the strip of land running from the North of San Francisco to the South of Jan José can be analyzed as an ice core. Beyond the frantic entrepreneurial energy that runs through it, we could see different architectonic displacements, which keep track of deeper transformations, from Sunnyvale to Cupertino, from Mountain View to Menlo Park, from Palo Alto to San Francisco.

The trend towards increasing personalization of food is the result of the convergence of many scientific and technological advances and a growing demand from consumers for customized products and services, that take into account their health concerns. Opportunities in terms of innovations are huge. This largely explains the current craze around the foodtech industry. Some of these innovations are already on the market or seeking for investors. Others are still under prototyping or laboratory project.

Personalized food is not limited to personalizing food products in order to meet the needs of consumers with the prospect, during the coming decades, of creating a truly personalized diet. Consumers also ask for more control over what they consume and the way they eat it. Some even wish to produce, transform and control their own food in increasingly autonomous and sophisticated ways, according to their own wishes and quality standards. A mix, one could say, of cooking and manufacturing.

Air quality and energy transition: the French case

Society December 12th, 2016, Jean-Luc Legoupil / President, Renard Engineering and Communication

Emissions of air pollutants have plummeted in France since 1990. But progress is yet to be made, especially in urban areas, in industrial zones and paradoxically in the countryside: these pollutants, which have become less visible and more subtle, are carried by winds and across borders. In this area, rigorous scientific analysis is required to allow to devote our collective and individual resources to share the actually most effective actions for our well-being.

Universal basic income: the contradictions of a simple idea

Society December 8th, 2016, Charles Wyplosz / Professor of International Economics and Director of the International Centre for Money and Banking Studies, Graduate Institute, Geneva

While certainly tempting, providing a simple answer to a complicated question is a straight road to failure. Ever since our alleged ancestors, Adam and Eve, were cast out of heaven, we all dream of a world where we will live a happy life, free from material contingencies. This dream is so deeply rooted that we embrace it immediately. Whether left-wing or right-wing, advocates of universal basic income generate a great deal of enthusiasm. Who wouldn't dream of eradicating poverty? Unfortunately, the path to dreams is strewn with pitfalls and overly simple or confusing reasoning gives improper advice.

Network entrepreneurs, or 
how intellectualism works in the digital age

Society December 5th, 2016, Fred Turner / Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication, Stanford University

The digital transformation has begun to reshape traditional literary culture, as well as traditional intellectual culture. Three Americans were central to that process: Norbert Wiener, the celebrated founder of cybernetics, Stewart Brand, a leading hippie figure from the 70s, 
and more recently Tim O'Reilly, who brought us the terms web 2.0 and open source, as well as a few other ways of looking at the world. How do they work as intellectuals?

Bitcoin and central banks: a monetary revolution?

Society November 25th, 2016, Jia Kai / PhD Graduate at School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, Fullbright Scholar, Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Davis

Digital currency rose to its prominence in 2009, marked by the birth of Bitcoin. The following seven years saw the burgeoning of a 10 billion dollar worth Bitcoin global network, which leads to more discussions from central banks around how to keep up with the trend both systematically and technologically. Debates on the legitimacy of digital currency never end, with speculation around possibilities of its replacement of fiat money, an ensuing prospective governance mechanism and its function akin to that of central banks.

Google, Facebook and Twitter last week vowed to fight fake news, hate speech and abuse in their own ways amid the backlash over how such content may have influenced voting in the U.S. presidential election. Those actions could have come sooner, and many troubling issues persist.

The impact of Internet in rural India

Society November 14th, 2016, Rekha Jain / Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Given the rural context in developing countries, how has the Internet influenced their socialization, economic opportunities and access to knowledge resources? Rural areas do not have educational, communication, and transportation facilities. Job opportunities are not many; information on job opportunities in other locations is not easily available. In emergencies like epidemic breaks or floods it is difficult to contact other organizations for help. Even commerce takes place at a primitive level. Do government initiatives to provide Internet access make a difference? To find out, we asked the people.

Innovation, the Indian Way

Society October 10th, 2016, Richard Robert / Executive Director, Paris Innovation Review

In the global geography of innovation, India is straddling two continents. Its engineers have contributed to the success of the Silicon Valley: the father of the USB socket, the inventor of the Intel Pentium chip, the general manager of Microsoft are Indian, as is part of the senior management at Google. The success of this Diaspora reflects the talents of Indian engineers, but it can also be linked with an original innovation culture, which expresses itself in an amazing ability to reverse concepts. Three meta-innovations illustrate this Indian way.

Who are the serial entrepreneurs behind unicorns?

Society October 4th, 2016, Monique Dagnaud / Emerita Research Director, EHESS, PSL Research University, Institut Marcel Mauss

Over 60,000 US Internet startups have been created over the last decade but only 0.14% turned into unicorns i.e. startup companies with a market capitalization over one billion dollars. Who are the serial entrepreneurs who founded them? This winners club covered 84 entities in 2015 – against 39 in 2013. They have a very distinctive profile.

Airbnb or how to rejuvenate the rent economy

Society September 12th, 2016, Monique Dagnaud / Emerita Research Director, EHESS, PSL Research University, Institut Marcel Mauss

The Airbnb community reflects very interesting socio-cultural aspects. Almost 73% of Americans are unaware of collaborative economy, and this consumption pattern appeals primarily to under-45s, university graduates and people with a good level of income. This form of consumption is popular among the upper stratum of society because of the Romantic image it conjures, the ecological label and the art of living together. Simultaneously, it federates the support of young people because of the economic benefits it provides. Collaborative economy is the warhorse of a sort of cultural avant-garde; but this group will grow.

Why American internet companies fail in China: a cultural perspective

Business September 5th, 2016, DONG Jielin / Associate Professor and Member of the Academic Committee, Research Center for Technological Innovation, Tsinghua University

Different hierarchies of needs explain why, in the internet industry and other high-tech industries in China, there are both the Chinese way and the Silicon Valley way of doing business, and why some big American companies have been struggling to make headway here. High-tech sounds high-up, but for online service providers, it all boils down to understanding other people’s ways of thinking and doing things. They have to understand local governments, their employees, business partners, users and clients. Looking back, the U.S. internet giants that failed were simply out of tune with the Chinese market. They didn’t clearly see the importance of understanding Chinese culture; they talked to the wrong people in the wrong ways about the wrong things.

China’s reform progress exemplified: the road transportation situation

Society July 9th, 2016, Mats Harborn / Executive Director, Scania China Strategic Office

In order to continue to prosper, China as a country and as an economy needs deep and comprehensive reform. President Xi Jinping outlined his view in a long article published on May 10th in Peoples’ Daily, the official party newspaper: reform means that market forces should play a decisive role in resource allocation, and for that to happen there needs to be a level playing field. That in turn requires that all players abide by the same rules, standards and laws, which will not be achieved without strict and equal enforcement. In the field of road transportation, these issues become very concrete, visual and easy to understand.

The public sector has long operated in isolation, developing methods and solutions of its own. In recent decades, however, interactions with the private sector have increased, whether through the growing role of consulting firms or in the form of public-private partnerships. Today, this collaboration is taking on a whole new dimension by integrating other stakeholders, including the users of public services. The emergence of open innovation models is redefining the methods and spirit of public action. Government is reinventing itself as an innovation platform.

Advance amid choices: technological development, business innovation, laws and regulations

Society June 17th, 2016, Jia Kai / PhD Graduate at School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, Fullbright Scholar, Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Davis

Rapid technological upgrades and commercial innovation, coupled with a slow legislative and regulatory process, have given rise to successive social issues and disputes: Should platforms like Uber be legalized or not? Should Apple’s encryption technology be restricted? Should search results be affected by keyword bidding? Such issues not only pose great challenges to state governance, but also arouse intense social debates and controversies.

Urban transportation: trends, challenges and opportunities

Society June 15th, 2016, Sundaravalli Narayanaswami / Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Urban travel demand has to be understood from the context of differentiated urban growth. To some extent, capacity increase is possible by slight modifications with little or no investments such as signaling changes, widening of roads and extricating encroachments. But what works for one city may not work for the other, though some valuable lessons can be learned.

A Zero|Base health system

Society June 10th, 2016, Antoine Dubout & Guy Vallancien / President, French Federation of Private and Non-Profit Hospitals and Personal Assistance Organizations & President, Convention on Health Analysis and Management

Sirius has four characteristics. He is strictly rational and insensitive to any emotional stimulus. He is also insensitive to any political or corporate pressure. He ignores all existing health systems worldwide. He has a full capacity of understanding and immediate learning. Were Sirius asked to design a completely new health system, what would it look like?

The recent Directive on the protection of trade secrets sparked widespread criticism. Much has been said on this text, accused of having been written under the influence of multinational companies and of allowing prosecutions against journalists and whistleblowers. A careful reading of the text, however, can dispel most of the expressed concerns. The purpose of the Directive is not to organize the disguise of wrongdoing or unethical behavior. It is, however, aimed at protecting any information that would constitute a competitive advantage, without inducing intellectual property rights.

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