Esteve Almirall

A conversation with Soh Kim – d-school Stanford University – about Design Thinking, Food Hackatons and Data Science

Soh Kim is responsible for the FoodInno initiative in the d-school @ Stanford University, as you all know the d-school is the meca of Design Thinking, a collaboration between Stanford & IDEO that resulted in the conceptualization of Design Thiking. 

Soh is one of the main researchers around Open Innovation in the Food industry. She is interested not only in conducting research but also in driving change. Food Hackatons is one of her proposals to link the instruments commonly used in Innovation & Tech to the Food Industries.

This interview was precisely recorded in one of this Hackatons in Esade where we proposed to reinvent TAPAS.

Our collaboration with the d-school goes however well beyond Food Hackatons. In our new program on Data Science, the Master in Business Analytics, our students will have a 2 week study trip to the Stanford’s d-school to work on how to use Design Thinking in Data Science.

Many of the Data Analytics projects don’t fully reach their objectives or end up in products that don’t fit the needs of users. With the use of Design Thinking we want to change that, increasing their success rate. 

Open Innovation – the Last 10 years – the next 10 years

During December 15-17 we had in ESADE Barcelona the World Open Innovation Conference 2016. About 250 scholars, industry, government and researchers gathered to present, network and talk about Open Innovation in what is possibly the largest conference in the world on this area.

It will be difficult to highlight only a few things because we had so many. From the State of Open Innovation introduced by Henry Chesbrough to the commitment on Open Innovation of the European Commission presented by Carlos Moedas or the one of the City of Barcelona introduced by Francesca Bria. Or the intersection between Open Innovation and food with Ferran Adrià and Marcel Planellas or with soccer with Ivan Bofarull. The state of Open Innovation in China. Even a food hackaton held by Soh Kim from Stanford and myself.

Of course, lots of papers, academic research and also challenges posed by companies where academic and industry can both relate and discuss.

It was a really nice conference with many different flavors, reflecting the reality of a discipline that is becoming increasingly important as companies move towards ways to compete where innovation is more prevalent.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a talk in Berlin invited by Fraunhofer FOKUS (Vielen Dank !!!) about the past, the present and the future of Open Innovation.

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¿Por qué esta revolución es diferente?

thenewrevolutionSi algo nos diferencia como especie, es nuestra capacidad para construir herramientas, nada hay más humano. Estas herramientas nos han permitido aumentar nuestras capacidades, haciendo no sólo más de lo que podíamos hacer sino cosas de las que no éramos capaces.

La revolución industrial supuso un punto de inflexión importante. El multiplicador de nuestras capacidades se incrementó notablemente y con él la participación del trabajo en productos y servicios se empequeñeció. Aparecieron las primeras películas y narraciones que nos mostraban una humanidad donde las maquinas lo hacían todo. En ese momento sólo eran sueños.

Sin embargo, aquellos sueños se están convirtiendo en realidad.

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Data & Cities


Last Friday November 25 Barcelona City Hall & Esade held in Barcelona an event around the use and the governance of Data in Cities. Central to this event was the discussion of what cities have to do with data and how to approach the tsunami around Big Data, Data Analytics and Data Science that is shaking and transforming companies and organizations around the world.

It’s a very new subject and I think it is fair to say that local authorities are mostly unprepared to deal with it. To summarize, not only they lack the internal competencies but best practices and general policy frameworks don’t exist yet. Only a few cities: New York, Seoul, Amsterdam, Helsinki, now Barcelona … are exploring this uncharted territory with a diversity of approaches.

Last Friday we had the opportunity to be exposed to some of them. Among all I would like to highlight three.

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Data Driven Cities – SF saving Cyclists’ lives


Cyclist die in our cities trying to circumvent too much traffic and survive hostile streets. Yes, cyclist die and they die too often. At the end of August this was the case of Michael Schenkman, 78, an avid and popular New York cyclist that also taught driver’s education for several years. He knew how to sort the dangerous and busy streets of New York. But nevertheless, he died stroked by a black Chevrolet that dragged him 25 feet.

I have been cycling through the streets of Barcelona for the last 15+ years. Barcelona is as dangerous as New York for cyclists. In the last years separated lanes for cyclist have been built,  but none on the sidewalks, which obviously limits adoption. When you cycle often through cities  you are very aware of the risk, you know that no matter what you do, a car or a motorbike can hit you and you will die or end up seriously injured. For the sake of the example, in New York, Schenkman’s death was the fifteenth until August. A pretty bad record.   

However, even if this happens and happens too often, even knowing how to address it. Most of the times, nothing gets done, beyond regretting the causality.

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Self driving cars, hell or heaven for cities?


Let’s be clear beforehand, new technologies open opportunities but don’t shape futures, societies do !

We often tend to have an optimistic view of technology, and in the end it is normally true that technology advancements result in a better living for all of us. However, transitions are not necessarily smooth and often the introduction of a new technology has caused social pains.

This is not the fault of technology, but of our lack of willingness to confront the problem and design social and legal structures that could shape the outcomes that we envision. Avoiding confronting early the inevitable changes that the technology progress will bring, is at the root of this problem. It is as easy to hide and prohibit the new business models, new tech advancements as irresponsible. Doing so only leads to being hit by them and having to adopt the “de facto” standard because that has been developed abroad because it is too late, because when we finally surrender to the unavoidable, it will be too late. Resulting into much more than a missing opportunity, a loss in competitiveness and lots of pain.

Self driving cars will be no exception . We always have an optimistic view of this new technology. We envision self driving cars as an opportunity to get rid of car congestion in our cities. We all will share cars that will provide on demand rides at a very low cost. Transportation will be almost for free, ready available to everybody. Finally, pollution will be a nightmare of the past and our cities will be clean, with lots of green spaces recovered from city streets and cities will live a new renewal.

To good to be true? Yes, our cities could have this new renewal, but they have to earn it. Technology alone won’t bring it.

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A vueltas con Über …



Como si se tratase de una casualidad del destino hace pocos días hice un post sobre los conductores de über en San Francisco y la compañía acaba de anunciar que este mismo mes de Julio empezará con las pruebas en escenarios reales de su vehículo auto-conducido.

Se trata de un Volvo XC90 (Über tenia un acuerdo con Volvo para el desarrollo conjunto de su vehículo auto-conducido). Nada menos que 100 vehículos estarán disponibles a partir de este mismo mes para todos los usuarios de Über en Pittsburg.

En los vehículos un ingeniero de la compañía estará tomando datos y asistiendo si hiciese falta. Asimismo un ordenador refrigerado con liquido en el portaequipajes recogerá toda la información de los trayectos.

Por cierto si coges un über autoconducido en Pittsburg el trayecto te saldrá gratis :-)))

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Lo que te cuentan los conductores de Über

File illustration picture showing the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign in Frankfurt, September 15, 2014. A Frankfurt court earlier this month instituted a temporary injunction against Uber from offering car-sharing services across Germany. San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to summon taxi-like services on their smartphones, offers two main services, Uber, its classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service, and Uberpop, a newer ride-sharing service, which connects private drivers to passengers - an established practice in Germany that nonetheless operates in a legal grey area of rules governing commercial transportation.    REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files  (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS EMPLOYMENT CRIME LAW TRANSPORT)

Estos días estoy en San Francisco, la culpa la tiene la conferencia de la Academy of Management y he aprovechado para visitar a amigos en Berkley y Stanford y avanzar en la organización de eventos y viajes en Esade. En Diciembre tenemos la World Open Innovation Conference y estamos lanzando nuevos programas, así que hay mucho que hacer. 

En San Francisco, no hay muchos taxis, de hecho nunca los ha habido. Particularmente si estás un poco alejado del centro o es de noche, siempre ha costado encontrar uno. Quizás ésta sea una de las razones por las que todo el mundo que conozco allí usa Über. Yo, como soy un fan de Über, pues he usado también mucho este servicio y he aprovechado para conversar con los conductores y enterarme de lo que piensan de un tema como éste tan candente en España. Más que hablar lo que hecho es escuchar, escuchar es a menudo más importante que hablar. Todos me han contado cosas interesantes que me gustaría compartir con vosotros. 

El taxi moderno aparece a finales del XIX, primero en Londres y después en Europa y América. Como curiosidad, el taxímetro fue inventado por tres alemanes, a uno de ellos, Bruyn, lo echaron a un río un grupo de taxistas porque estaban en contra del invento. Las movilizaciones no son pues algo nuevo. En 1907 la ciudad de Nueva York importó una flota de vehículos de París y los pinto de amarillo para darles más visibilidad. La mayor parte de ciudades copiaron esta sencilla innovación, pero con sus propios colores, ¡claro!

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Plataformas y Regulación


Plataformas como Airbnb – Über – Google & Apple apps – WhatsApp – Facebook, Fiverr, … estan en el punto de mira no sólo de las empresas que buscan como convertirse en o incorporar-las, sino de politicos y ciudadanos en pie de guerra contra ellas, responsabilizándolas de incontables males.

Paralelamente, estas mismas plataformas han tomado por asalto la economía convirtiéndose en pocos años en las empresas de mayor éxito, superando a las grandes corporaciones centralizadas que han caracterizado la economía del siglo XX.

A estas alturas a nadie se le escapan dos realidades. Primero que los esfuerzos de algunas administraciones prohibiendo su actividad son no sólo baldíos sino dañinos para todos, las plataformas están para quedarse. Y segundo que nuestra regulación, pensada para un mundo donde no existían, no funciona en este mundo de las plataformas, está obsoleta y debemos actualizarla. La pregunta que aún no sabemos como resolver con precisión es cuál es la mejor legislación para todos. Una que aúne objetivos sociales con desarrollo económico. Pero si tenemos una cierta idea de cuáles son las lineas a seguir en esta nueva regulación.

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