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Why The World Needs Data As Much As Gas And Renewables To Power The Future

Alongside a wealth of new opportunities, the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a new chapter in human history enabled by technology – will be accompanied by challenges, ranging from a growing global population to the impact of climate change.

As the drive to cut carbon emissions accelerates, three fuels will power the planet’s future: renewables, natural gas, and – perhaps most surprisingly – data. Each will be of crucial importance in tomorrow’s energy landscape.

So says Dr. Michio Kaku, a renowned futurist and professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York. He outlined his vision for the energy landscape of tomorrow at the Gastech 2019 event in Houston, Texas — the world’s largest gas, LNG and energy exhibition.

“Data will be one of the great drivers of growth and wealth generation into the future.”

Dr. Michio Kaku

Winners And Losers

Just a short time ago, fossil fuels were seen as the best route to meeting our growing power needs. But as climate change draws energy producers and consumers toward cleaner sources, renewable energy’s star is rising.

In the past two decades, one terawatt of wind and solar capacity has been deployed. And the influence of renewables is growing rapidly as prices fall.

Yet these clean energy generators are not a stand-alone solution, at least not for the foreseeable future. They will need support from other power sources to meet future energy demand.

One such power source is natural gas. It is projected to meet a third of the increase in energy demand between now and 2040. And it will be especially important in emerging markets, according to Dr. Kaku.

“Burning methane gas produces 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, and 30 percent less than oil,” he told the audience at Gastech. “If you are in an emerging economy beginning to enter the global market, these numbers will speak to you.

“In any revolution there are winners and losers. By the best projection we can make, natural gas will be the winner.”

Data Revolution

Alongside these physical sources of energy, Dr. Kaku believes, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be driven by data.

“It is physics at the atomic level. We’re talking about artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and biotechnology. These will be the generators of wealth. Every industry, including the energy industry will be turned upside down,” he said.

Data processing power has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Today, a single smartphone has more computing power than the combined space programs of NASA and the USSR back in the 1960s. Algorithms and machine learning can process vast amounts of information exponentially faster and more efficiently than humans, and identify patterns.

Dr. Kaku expects this acceleration in computing power to continue.

For example, miniaturized technology coupled with ever faster and more powerful computers would be able to harness the power of the internet inside a contact lens. Just one blink and you will be online, with a world of information at your disposal.

It’s this power that will ensure data’s role as a fuel of the future.

“In the past, the revolutions of steam, electricity, and transistors were driven by fossil fuels,” Dr. Kaku concluded. “The future will be a combination of data, fossil fuels and renewable technology. In other words, data will be one of the great drivers of growth and wealth generation into the future.”

About the author

Johnny Wood, a journalist based in the United Kingdom, has reported from Asia, Europe and the Middle East for more than 15 years, writing for publications and organizations including Macmillan Press and the World Economic Forum.

A leading industrial firm, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group (40 billion USD annual revenue) is finding new, simpler and sustainable ways to power cities, improve infrastructure, innovate manufacturing and connect people and ideas around the globe with ever-increasing speed and efficiency. For over 130 years, the company has channeled big thinking into innovative and integrated solutions that move the world forward. MHI owns a unique business portfolio covering land, sea, sky and even space across industries from commercial aviation and transportation to power plants and gas turbines, and from machinery and infrastructure to integrated defense and space systems.

Visit MHI Global or MHI Spectra.

Source: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries BrandVoice: Why The World Needs Data As Much As Gas And Renewables To Power The Future

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The technological revolution has transformed our world and has far reaching implications. Join the conversation that will address important questions on how technological innovation will affect the future of the global economy. Link to the Seminar: http://www.imf.org/external/POS_Meeti…

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Japan BrandVoice: Why Companies Like French Chemicals Maker Arkema Are Choosing Kyoto

Why are some of the biggest companies in the world choosing to set up their Japan headquarters in Kyoto instead of other major cities? It might have something to do with a little-known fact about Japan’s old capital: Kyoto is home to a whopping 38 universities and about 150,000 students. That is a massive pool of highly educated, motivated workers as well as institutional knowledge, experience and talent (not to mention Nobel Prize winners) that can accelerate recruiting and business collaborations. It’s one reason why Kyoto is so appealing to entrepreneurs and innovators from everywhere.

A unique research park

Another reason why Kyoto is drawing foreign investors is its world-class infrastructure. In 1978, Osaka Gas closed down a massive gas plant that had operated in central Kyoto for half a century. In 1989, part of the site was reborn as Kyoto Research Park (KRP). It’s the only privately owned research park in Japan, and today, 30 years after its launch, it’s a shared office, research and laboratory space that hosts many established and startup companies from Japan and overseas.

French chemical company Arkema is one of 480 companies and organizations that are tenants at KRP. Spun off from energy multinational Total in 2004, Arkema was publicly listed in 2005. It specializes in high-performance materials and industrial products such as coating resins, specialty adhesives and fluorochemicals. Its predecessor joined KRP in 1993 when Total decided to establish its Kyoto Technical Center. With about 30 staff, the Kyoto Technical Center is Arkema’s second base in Japan after its headquarters in Tokyo. The role of the Kyoto Technical Center is to provide business and technical support to Arkema’s customers in Japan, Korea and the Asia-Pacific region. It develops new kinds of polymers, including materials for everyday products such as lightweight, high-performance running shoes and automotive components.

“Kyoto was a good place for us to establish our center because of the living environment here and its cost-effectiveness,” says Damien Vitry, a general manager at Arkema. “We also have a high rate of staff retention, which is a challenge in places like China. We still have staff in Kyoto who joined us in 1993.”

In Kyoto, Arkema is focused on 3D printing technologies, next-generation plastics and plastics applications. These include sustainably sourced bioplastics, such as its Rilsan polyamide line, and heat-resistant plastics, such as its Rilsan HT polyamide line, that can replace metal tubing in automotive and other applications. The company tries to link its R&D with U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and works with groups such as the Japan Organics Recycling Association and the Japan BioPlastics Association.

“Over the past 10 years, customers have become more interested in knowing where a product comes from, whether it has a bio-based origin,” says Vitry, who completed a PhD at Tokyo Institute of Technology before working in Japan and China. He helped set up an Arkema R&D center in Changshu, China, before settling in Kyoto.

Arkema hosts Japanese interns in Kyoto and undertakes collaborations with Japanese firms such as fiber and textile maker Toyobo. One of the main advantages for the company as a tenant at KRP is that it can use a shared KRP laboratory with specialized equipment that can advance its R&D projects.

“We can use this equipment to characterize materials for analyses, for example measuring the electrical properties of polymers for 5G networks,” says Vitry. “These are tools we can’t afford to have ourselves because we don’t need them all the time. We’re also part of the KRP network of companies and our people meet them every week. Overall, the environment at KRP is very helpful for us.”

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Where inspiration meets manufacturing prowess

Arkema is one of 26 foreign companies at KRP from 11 countries and regions; others include

Bosch and Pfizer. They have offices in KRP’s 17-building, 5.9-hectare site, which is supported by Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture and local industry.

KRP aims at being a one-stop service center for businesses, with both facilities and business support. It has 68,800 square meters of rentable space for office and other uses, laboratories where researchers and startups can use high-end equipment such as DNA sequencers and MALDI mass spectrometers at low cost, a conference center for up to 350 people, an executive lounge, and other facilities. KRP also offers services to support new businesses and to facilitate networking among companies including major local manufacturers. But one of the main attractions is local talent.

“Large corporations tell us they join KRP for the recruiting potential for local hires, foreign exchange students and overseas designers,” says Adachi Takeshi, general manager in the KRP Brand Strategy Department. “We have strong connections with Kyoto universities and we host technical seminars featuring experts from academia.”

These kinds of events have drawn life sciences venture companies from all over the Kansai region as well as the likes of Johnson and Johnson, Takeda Pharmaceutical, and other big brands. Adachi notes that the local fundraising environment has improved in recent years, with both the number of venture capital companies and the volume of funds increasing. The Kyoto Startup Company Evaluation Committee (aka Kyoto Mekiki) is one of several regional groups that work with Kyoto City to support fledgling businesses.

Meanwhile, KRP is continuing to grow. It is expanding its footprint with construction of an 18th building for office rental space slated for completion in 2021. As he and his colleagues welcome more businesses from overseas, Adachi emphasizes Kyoto’s attractiveness as a compact city with rich academic, manufacturing and business resources.

“People here in Kyoto have been making things for almost 1,200 years,” says Adachi. “People from overseas who see traditional things here can become inspired and work with local craftsmen to turn their ideas into prototypes. We are working with many companies, startups and entrepreneurs to do this in a more effective, efficient way. There’s no other city that can offer this combination of inspiration and manufacturing prowess. People get culture shock here, but in a good way.”

Note: All Japanese names in this article are given in the traditional Japanese order, with surname first.

To learn more about Kyoto Research Park, click here.

To learn more about Arkema, click here.

Japan is changing. The country is at the forefront of demographic change that is expected to affect countries around the world. Japan regards this not as an onus but as a bonus for growth. To overcome this challenge, industry, academia and government have been moving forward to produce powerful and innovative solutions. The ongoing economic policy program known as Abenomics is helping give rise to new ecosystems for startups, in addition to open innovation and business partnerships. The Japan Voice series explores this new landscape of challenge and opportunity through interviews with Japanese and expatriate innovators who are powering a revitalized economy. For more information on the Japanese Government innovations and technologies, please visit https://www.japan.go.jp/technology/.

Source: Japan BrandVoice: Why Companies Like French Chemicals Maker Arkema Are Choosing Kyoto

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Arkema continues to innovate and develop ever more efficient materials for coatings that are both tougher and easier to apply, while addressing environmental constraints. Working closely with its customers, the Group markets a unique multi-technology and multi-product offering for the paint, coatings and adhesives markets, to be showcased at the European Coatings Show, Nürnberg, 19 to 21 March 2019 (Hall 4A – Stand 313).

Digital Transformation Will Change Manufacturing As We Know It

Turning the challenges of manufacturing into new opportunities for success with digital transformation.

The global manufacturing world seems to be travelling back in time. Large production plants and long assembly lines, where goods were mass produced in hundreds and thousands, may become a thing of the past. Instead we are witnessing a growing demand for products that are highly-customized to the needs of individual end customers. This is much like the years preceding the First Industrial Revolution when each product was painstakingly crafted by hand.

But this time, something is about to change.

Instead of workers spending hours creating made-to-order products, industry can now quickly produce millions of goods, in smaller and smaller batch sizes, without compromising on quality or productivity. This transformation is possible in a data-driven digital ecosystem powered by connected devices and solutions that maximize the potential from existing infrastructure.

Simply put, the digital transformation of businesses allows to capitalize on the benefits of digital tools such as smart sensors, cloud computing and the Internet to add value to existing manufacturing processes. Digitalizing a production process opens fresh opportunities by gathering meaningful insights that can be analyzed to better understand the condition of each and every individual piece of equipment. Sensors on a machine continuously track its status and can immediately alert operators in the case of an anomaly in normal working parameters. Digitalization enables operators to move from reacting to incidents on the shop floor to proactively maintaining their equipment to avoid unplanned downtime. This gives manufacturers the ability to meet increasingly demanding deadlines even while producing a greater mix of products.

Building a digital ecosystem

In a world of ever-growing complexity and competition, digitalization can offer a quick boost to the productivity of industrial equipment. Something as simple as installing a sensor on heat-sensitive machines, such as a welding robot, can help an operator to track temperature variations to ensure that the optimum temperature is maintained for the most flawless weld from the robot. Gaining increased transparency of processes in a factory not only leads to higher productivity, but also potentially helps to save significant resources due to fewer unplanned outages and can increase the lifecycle and decrease the power consumption of equipment.

Of course, the greatest value of the digital transformation of industries can be achieved when every piece of equipment along the value chain is connected. Be it directly on the shop floor or through the Industrial Internet of Things. Digitally connected assets that understand the information being passed around the shop floor can interact autonomously, lending a whole new dimension of efficiency and autonomy to industries.

The right digital strategy to choose

The statistics around digital transformation are highly encouraging. A 2019 report by market research firm IDC estimated that direct investment in digital transformation would approach a staggering $7.4 trillion between now and 20231. But on the flipside, it is not uncommon to see digital transformation strategies failing to reach their goals as companies struggle to find the right approach and trained employees who can take on the challenge of a complete recast of their business models.

For some six decades now, ABB has been at the forefront of developing and deploying technology for digital manufacturing. Just one example is the introduction of the world`s first digitally controlled robot in the year 1974. Today, ABB as a technology leader is driving the digital transformation of industries. It masters all elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that represents the next wave of innovations including IIoT, artificial intelligence and modular manufacturing to support both big and small businesses. For instance, artificial intelligence is at the heart of a solution that ABB has co-created with Microsoft to help a Nordic salmon fishery remotely track its fish population, thereby reducing the need for human intervention and ultimately making the production of over 70,000 tons of salmon a year more sustainable.

Digital transformation in real-time

One of the cornerstones of digital transformations and the factory of the future is the ability to act in real time, which allows companies to quickly respond to issues before they become problems. That is why I believe that progress that ABB has made with its telecommunication partners Ericsson and Swisscom in the field of 5G communications is so exciting.

At the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, ABB’s collaborative YuMi robot carved a message in a sandbox that was replicated at the same time by a second YuMi robot located 1.5 km away. This demonstration of low latency communication over long distances enabled by 5G can help bring future concepts of more flexible and modular manufacturing to reality. 5G networks over a specified area can connect thousands of automated guided vehicles that move around the factory floor bringing essential parts to production hubs within a very short time.

Much like mass production; paper designs and traditional 2D schematics will find fewer users as the industrial world becomes more digital. Taking their place are concepts like digital twins where a fully functional virtual image of a physical asset is created to help operators iron out details such as to test the interaction of a machine with its surroundings. Digital twins allow businesses avoid losing time in perfecting and testing out product prototypes or modifications and potentially reducing production costs.

A digital transformation of its own kind is happening in industrial services. Advanced monitoring solutions, such as ABB AbilityTM Connected Services, are helping companies monitor their assets in many sites on one system. Connected Services applied to ABB’s robots can help businesses monitor the condition of their fleet, diagnose anomalies, remotely operate them, help plan maintenance schedules by prioritizing the hardest working robots and provide a backup management so as to enable easy and fast recovery from a systems crash or from unwanted changes.

Enhancing efficiency and productivity, reducing unwanted incidents and creating a more reliable manufacturing process using digital transformation ultimately reduces the consumption of resources and helps build a more sustainable manufacturing process. We are at a point in time where we have come to understand that digitalization is not just a passing fad or a privilege of large companies, but a fundamental element of the future of industries.

1 Source: https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS45617519

Bazmi Husain is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of ABB.

Source: Digital Transformation Will Change Manufacturing As We Know It

Rico Dittrich graduated in International Politics and History from Jacobs University, Bremen, before moving to Ireland to make ends meet by testing video games. Rico changed companies and joined Google and went on to troubleshoot large customers’ issues with some of Google’s most technical and advanced digital analytics services. He currently works as Digital Analytics Specialist at Google, collaborating with large German retailers to set them up for the future of online measurement, attribution and automation. He has lived in six countries, across three continents, in the last six years and is fluent in German, English, and Spanish. At TEDxUniPaderborn 2017, Rico spoke on the topic “The difficulty of digital transformation & how to make it happen”. Born and raised in Germany, Rico Dittrich graduated in International Politics and History from Jacobs University, Bremen, before moving to Ireland to make ends meet by testing video games. Rico changed companies and joined Google and went on to troubleshoot large customers’ issues with some of Google’s most technical and advanced digital analytics services. He currently works as Digital Analytics Specialist at Google, collaborating with large German retailers to set them up for the future of online measurements, attributions and automation. He has lived in six countries, across three continents, in the last six years and is fluent in German, English, and Spanish. At TEDxUniPaderborn 2017, Rico will be speaking on the topic “Why Digital Transformation Is So Difficult and How to Make It Happen”. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

GM Is Pulling out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

The GM Holden Ltd. logo is displayed at the company’s engine operations facility in Melbourne, Australia, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013. General Motors Co.’s Holden unit, Australia’s largest carmaker, said it would shutter production lines in 2017 after 69 years, joining Ford Motor Co. in exiting an economy struggling with high costs and a strong currency. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(DETROIT) — General Motors says it’s pulling out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand as part of a strategy to exit markets that don’t produce adequate returns on investments.

The company said in a statement Sunday that it will wind down sales, engineering and design operations for its historic Holden brand in Australia and New Zealand in 2021.

It also plans to sell its Rayong factory in Thailand to China’s Great Wall Motors and withdraw the Chevrolet brand from Thailand by the end of this year.

GM has 828 employees in Australia and New Zealand and another 1,500 in Thailand, the company said.

CEO Mary Barra says the company wants to focus on markets where it can drive strong returns. She says GM will support its employees and customers in the transition.

The company said it will scale back operations in all three countries to selling niche specialty vehicles. It also will make the same move in Japan, Russia and Europe, where “we don’t have significant scale.”

“We are pursuing a niche presence by selling profitable high-end imported vehicles supported by a lean GM structure,” International Operations Senior Vice President Julian Blissett said in the statement.

GM said it will honor all warranties in the markets, and it will continue to provide service and parts. Local operations also will handle recalls and any safety-related issues, the company said.

The Detroit automaker expects to take $1.1 billion worth of cash and noncash charges this year as it cuts operations in the three countries.

GM has a long history in Australia with the Holden brand, where cars were designed and sold in the U.S. and other markets. The 2008 and 2009 Pontiac G8 muscle car, for instance, was designed as a Holden Commodore and built in Australia.

But GM said Holden’s market share, which was nearly 22% in 2002, fell to just over 4% last year.

GM President Mark Reuss, who once ran the Australian operations, said the company explored options to continue Holden, “but none could overcome the challenges of the investments needed for the highly fragmented right-hand-drive market, the economics to support growing the brand, and delivering an appropriate return on investment,” he said in the statement.

The company also said it analyzed the business case for future production at the Rayong plant Thailand, but low use of the plant and expected low sales volumes “made continued GM production at the site unsustainable.”

GM has struggled in Asia in the past year. It’s International Operations, which include China, lost $200 million last year, including $100 million in the fourth quarter.

By Tom Krisher / AP 11:33 PM EST

Source: GM Is Pulling out of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand

After learning the sad truth that GM would be pulling out of Australia as a manufacturer of automobiles, there were several loose ends that needed clarifying in regards to the outcome of the situation and solutions to, well, make the best of it.

Britain Sides With China In Technology Cold War

A Huawei advertisement on a billboard in London, May, 23, 2019.

In the battle over the next generation of telecommunications, China is winning. On Jan. 28, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided not to ban hardware made by the market-leading Chinese firm Huawei as the U.K. builds out its infrastructure for 5G wireless technology. The choice was a blow to the Trump Administration, which has waged a monthslong campaign to persuade allies to shun Huawei–and just lost its closest ally.

Sensitive Topic

Although Johnson needs a post-Brexit trade deal with the U.S., he also promised voters a revolution in Internet speed and coverage. His decision not to ban Huawei–despite warnings of the risk of spying by Beijing–reflects the importance states are placing on the competitive advantage in Internet infrastructure.

Huawei is to be limited to a maximum 35% role in the periphery of the U.K.’s 5G network, away from “sensitive” sites like nuclear plants. But on Jan. 29, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo still urged Britain to reconsider its decision.

Risky Business

In Germany, the same trade-off between economic growth and security is clear, with an added current of fear over Chinese retaliation. (An estimated 900,000 German jobs depend on exports to China.) “I don’t think we can quickly build a 5G network in Germany without Huawei taking part,” German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Jan. 18. And while new E.U. guidelines allow members to exclude “high-risk” 5G providers, they stop short of recommending a ban on Huawei.

New Era

For the past century or more, the cutting edge of technology has been dominated by the U.S. and its allies. Now, thanks to years of research and design subsidized by the Chinese government, Huawei’s hardware is cheaper and faster than that of its rivals. That could have lasting effects across the board for U.S. diplomacy. And as China’s sway grows, the Washington-London link is unlikely to be the only “special relationship” to come under strain.

By Billy Perrigo January 30, 2020

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Melinda Gates Names Chicago First Gender-Inclusive Tech Hub

Chicago tech hub

Melinda Gates chose Chicago to create the first tech hub with gender equality. Getty

Melinda Gates has a vision of how gender-inclusive tech hubs would function, and her new initiative is attempting to create three of them. The first stop is Chicago.

Gates announced today that Pivotal Ventures, her investment and incubation company will be launching an initiative, Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities, designed to accelerate the representation and leadership of women in tech, through the development of inclusive tech hubs across the United States. Rather than focusing on male-dominated Silicon Valley, this effort is targeting gender equality in up-and-coming tech hubs. Chicago was chosen as the first of three hubs, and additional cities will be selected in the next few years.

Gates explained the rationale for targeting smaller hubs in GET Cities, “As the tech industry continues to expand beyond Silicon Valley to other areas across the country, we have the opportunity to reimagine what the sector could look like. If these emerging tech hubs are supported to prioritize women’s representation and inclusion as they grow, they will be better positioned to tap into the full range of local talent, while also helping create a blueprint for closing the industry’s gender gap nationwide.”

Chicago was chosen as the first GET City after an analysis of tech hubs revealed Chicago had the ideal mix of factors including computing degree programs, access to capital, a strong local business and employer community, diverse talent and a favorable regulatory and political environment.

GET Cities’ Priorities

Pivotal Ventures is teaming up with with Break Through Tech and SecondMuse to launch GET Cities. Their plan for increasing equality in the burgeoning Chicago tech world is three-fold: getting more women interested in pursuing tech careers, creating an inclusive environment which generates opportunities for these women, and ensuring that women of color are provided the same pathways and opportunities. Here are the details of how they are reinventing the tech hub.

1. Building Pathways Into Tech Break Through Tech will partner with higher education institutions, starting with the University of Illinois at Chicago to increase the number of female computing graduates. Break Through Tech already has experience bringing more women into the tech world with a similar program they launched in New York. They plan to help connect female students to each other and to professionals and to help provide female students gain access to internships.

2. Getting Local Tech Ecosystem On Board Led by SecondMuse, a global innovation agency, GET Cities will encourage local startups, venture firms and tech companies to build a more inclusive culture. This includes developing a set of shared goals on hiring and retention of women, increasing the number of women in artificial intelligence jobs, and identifying sources of capital and funding for female entrepreneurs.

3. Ensuring Equal Representation for All Women GET Cities also wants to ensure that women of all backgrounds, particularly women of color, have pathways into tech, innovation, and entrepreneurship. They aim to improve diversity and inclusion in AI, support black and Latinx female startup founders, and to boost the number of black, Latinx, and Native American women graduating with computing degrees.

Gates’ initiative is targeting the lack of women in technology from both the supply and demand side. The program aims to entice more women to pursue tech careers, and then make sure there are opportunities available to these women when they’re looking for work or funding. In addition, they plan to provide support for the women throughout the process.

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The statistics on women in technology suggest that a major intervention like GET Cities is certainly warranted. According to Gates, only 19% of computer degrees go to women, and women hold only 26% of computing-related jobs. Last year, a meager 2.8% of venture capital funding in the U.S. went to companies started by all-female teams. Women of color are also hard to find in the computing workforce. Despite accounting for 16% of the general population, African American, Latinx and Native American women hold only about 4% of roles in computing fields. In October, Gates announced that she was committing $1 billion to change these statistics. Currently, $50 million are allocated to the GET Cities project.

Gates is betting that intervening early in the development of the tech hubs will provide an opportunity to steer the culture in a better direction. Let’s hope she’s right.

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Inspired by my prior career developing quantitative trading strategies for Morgan Stanley, I’m now trying to solve women’s issues at work—including the wage gap and sexual harassment. I’ve taught courses on gender for eight years at UCLA, have published in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times and have discussed gender issues on Fox News, NPR and BBC. My book, Sex and the Office also dives in to some of the obstacles holding women back. My unique perspective comes from my varied background. I hold a Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA and two graduate degrees (management and operations research) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and an undergrad degree in mathematics and computer science from Vassar College

Source: Melinda Gates Names Chicago First Gender-Inclusive Tech Hub

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The Need For Speed: What’s Really Driving The Transformation Of Manufacturing

A tech at work at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor International facility.

Consumers may love the “click today, deliver tomorrow” culture of online shopping, but it’s forcing manufacturers to react to changing customer needs faster than ever before. The effects are not limited to mass-produced goods; they’re rippling through the highly specialized world of heavy machinery, which is experiencing burgeoning demand for customized products.

While technology’s growing influence on the sector can’t be ignored, the need for accelerated production and delivery is changing heavy machinery manufacturing – reshaping the sector in profound ways and creating new opportunities for growth.

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Going local

The conventional global manufacturing and distribution model is disappearing. Instead of shipping from one large production facility to the rest of the world, manufacturers are searching for more efficient arrangements. For some companies, that means setting up shop closer to customers to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and be able to respond quickly.

Working together is nothing new for Japanese companies. Chowa, as it’s known in Japanese, refers to ‘a spirit of harmonious partnership.’

One company that’s reaping the benefits of proximity is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor International (MCO-I), a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group. Rather than manufacture machinery at its home base in Japan and ship it to the United States, the company established a Gulf Coast base in 2015, in the heart of the local oil and gas industry – roughly half of the U.S. oil refining and natural gas processing capacity is located along the Gulf of Mexico.

This move has led to MCO-I’s rapid growth in the U.S. over the last four years, allowing the company to better understand the market and adapt its operations to the needs of its customers. Rather than simply shipping pieces of equipment, the company now offers customers whole-life service for its products.

3D printing on the premises

Technologies such as 3D printing are accelerating how companies produce their products. For instance, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co. (MAT) uses a proprietary additive manufacturing process to print metal components of virtually any size, and a unique monitoring system works in real time, analyzing feedback and automatically adjusting the printing process to guarantee the integrity of the finished product.

Clients have access to a record of the manufacturing, giving them complete traceability. And the process is cheaper than traditional methods, such as casting.

This innovation opens up many possibilities for companies operating closer to their customers. Manufacturers can produce highly specialized components on-site, for industries ranging from auto manufacturing to space travel.

Components produced locally also cut out the carbon dioxide emissions associated with transporting products across long distances, another growing concern for customers.

Growing collaboration

Increasingly, manufacturers are adopting a spirit of collaboration, joining forces to meet the time frames and complex demands of customers.

Some industries are naturally suited to such joint ventures: Mobile phone service providers have been benefiting from shared network infrastructure for years, reducing costs, spreading investment risk and extending their coverage.

Today, deep supply chain integration continues to offer many benefits to both vendor and buyer, especially as the market demands ever faster production and distribution.

Working together is nothing new for Japanese companies. Chowa, as it’s known in Japanese, refers to “a spirit of harmonious partnership.” Harmony can even exist between rivals, where the practical benefits of combining resources outweigh competitive concerns. Mazda and Toyota may compete, for example, but they’re building a joint factory in Alabama – a single facility that will produce cars from both companies for American drivers.

As businesses look to go local, these kinds of collaboration are a strategic way to cut the costs of running multiple global bases.

Free In-car delivery for Prime

Partner companies may also have shared interests despite operating in very different fields. Take Google and Volkswagen, which have joined forces in a quantum computing partnership. Although the companies may apply the technology differently, they share a common goal to advance the field while sharing the resources required to do so. In an increasingly high-tech world, where such breakthroughs could shift the playing field, unlikely collaborations could become commonplace.

For major manufacturers, working with other companies provides an opportunity to offer clients end-to-end solutions – through the power of internal chowa. On the Gulf Coast, MCO-I and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) have come together to supply customers with compressor and gas turbine packages.

Deepening integration

Greater collaboration has also become an integral part of successful and faster supply chains, as astute manufacturers realize the benefits of developing deeper relationships with their vendors. These suppliers can help manufacturers reduce costs, boost quality and develop new products and processes to outpace and outperform competitors.

This is a proven strategy for Japanese companies. The country’s major auto manufacturers were fostering supply chain integration in the U.S. in the 1980s. This culture of cooperation exported from Japan ran counter to the price-focused interactions between carmaker and supplier that dominated the American automobile market at the time.

Honda and Toyota built long-term, close-knit vendor networks in the States, in which suppliers learned, improved and shared in the parent company’s success. In the 1990s, production costs fell by as much as 25 percent for some Japanese models, lead times to bring new models to market were shorter than those of U.S. rivals, and overall reliability was superior.

Today, deep supply chain integration continues to offer many benefits to both vendor and buyer, especially as the market demands ever faster production and distribution. Sharing expertise and knowledge builds trust between partners, and often mutual success. The spirit of cooperation makes it easier to respond to customer requests for bespoke products and to react to emergencies.

This strategic, and at times physical, closeness can also give customers peace of mind about what they’re buying: MCO-I’s integration with MHI Group companies means customers know the provenance of their machines.

The result is greater speed and greater transparency – chowa at its best.

About the author

Johnny Wood has been a journalist for over 15 years working in different parts of the world – Asia, Europe and Middle East. As well as an accomplished features writer he has edited several prestigious lifestyle magazines and corporate publications.

A leading industrial firm, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group (40 billion USD annual revenue) is finding new, simpler and sustainable ways to power cities, improve infrastructure, innovate manufacturing and connect people and ideas around the globe with ever-increasing speed and efficiency. For over 130 years, the company has channeled big thinking into innovative and integrated solutions that move the world forward. MHI owns a unique business portfolio covering land, sea, sky and even space across industries from commercial aviation and transportation to power plants and gas turbines, and from machinery and infrastructure to integrated defense and space systems.

Visit MHI Global or MHI Spectra.

Source: The Need For Speed: What’s Really Driving The Transformation Of Manufacturing

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Volkswagen Is Accelerating One Of The World’s Biggest Smart-Factory Projects

Volkswagen is set to take a significant step forward with what Martin Hofmann, the German auto giant’s group CIO, calls “one of the biggest industrial cloud projects in the Western hemisphere.”

This year, the company has piloted its smart-manufacturing initiative, which launched in March, at three of its plants. In 2020, it will roll out to another 15 of its 122 factories around the world as part of a five-year strategy to create a much more agile production base, using a combination of cloud computing, sensor-laden equipment, big data and machine learning. Hofmann is part of a senior team leading the project, which also includes Gerd Walker, VW’s group head of production.

The industrial cloud is a key part of VW’s plan to boost productivity by 30% by 2025 and is being introduced at a time of wrenching change in the German automotive industry. In November, Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, said it would cut 10,000 jobs, or 3% of its workforce, by 2022 and use the savings to invest in electric models. Its announcement followed one from VW’s Audi luxury car unit, which will cut 9,500 jobs by 2025, or 1 in 10 of its staff, as it pivots towards electric vehicles too.

To help it adjust faster, VW, which ships almost 11 million vehicles a year, is counting on cloud computing to solve a big headache. Hofmann says a “spaghetti architecture” of hundreds of different IT systems across each of its factories frustrates some efforts to optimize efficiency. If a better process for monitoring quality in a paint shop is developed in one location, he notes, it can’t be applied easily by others because of differing software languages and protocols. The tech spaghetti also makes it harder to control costs and spin up production of new models quickly.

Today In: Innovation

VW’s industrial cloud project, which it’s developing in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), will solve such issues by creating a digital production platform with common interfaces for all kinds of equipment. Over time, all of VW’s plants will be brought onto the platform and production teams will be able to tap into an app store to share applications that can be implemented in all of its factories.

Amazon’s AWS is providing a range of cloud-related services for the project, whose cost hasn’t been disclosed, while industrial-engineering firm Siemens is working on systems that control the machinery in VW’s plants. Eventually VW hopes to bring its suppliers into its industrial cloud, too, which will mean integrating around 1,500 companies with 30,000 additional locations.

The aim is to share data as well as software. VW is creating a data lake that will suck in information from systems and sensors in all of its factories. The data will be used to develop and train machine-learning models for things such as predictive maintenance that can be deployed within plants, or to optimize operations across them. Once its suppliers are integrated into the industrial cloud, VW will be able to leverage more of their data to boost the efficiency of its supply chain and logistics operations.

It’s a compelling vision, but a recent survey of more than 1,000 executives in 13 countries by consulting firm Capgemini found that only 14% of organizations considered their smart factory projects to be successful; almost 60% said their initiatives were either struggling or that it was too early to comment on progress.

The biggest challenge, says Jean-Pierre Petit, Capgemini’s director of digital manufacturing, in an emailed comment to Forbes, is to “cross the chasm” from an initial pilot in a single plant to full-scale deployments, which is where the real benefits of digitization kick in. In particular, smart-factory projects require IT teams to work closely with “operational technology” (OT) groups managing machinery and other tech inside factories. Often, OT teams have become used to working quite independently and may resist IT’s efforts to drive change.

By working closely together on VW’s industrial cloud project, Hofmann and Walker are sending a strong signal to their respective teams about the need for tight collaboration. The decision to launch pilots at several factories this year rather than just one was also deliberate. “You can put a ton of slides up [about the industrial cloud], but nobody is interested in that,” says Dirk Didascalou, one of the senior AWS executives involved in the project. “They need to see it working first.”

The three factories were chosen partly to highlight the fact that VW’s industrial cloud will span all of its activities. The two in Germany, at Wolfsburg and Chemnitz, make cars and components, respectively. A third, at Polkowice in Poland, makes commercial vehicles. The goal next year is to bring at least one factory for each of VW’s 12 brands, which include Porsche, SEAT and Scania as well as Audi, into the industrial cloud. “We want to give them all a showcase,” explains Walker.

It will take time for workers used to dealing with older, inflexible systems to adapt to a world in which tech services can be tapped on demand via the cloud. But VW sees the shift as essential if it’s to compete successfully in a fast-changing market. The company is also developing an “automotive cloud” to help it deliver software and services directly to its vehicles, and VW’s IT function has championed cloud projects in other areas, such as sales management.

If it can help deliver the industrial cloud successfully, Hofmann’s team will further enhance its reputation. Along with moves to beef up VW’s in-house software-development capabilities, the shift to the cloud is already transforming the way the group’s 15,000-strong IT staff is viewed within the company. “IT isn’t just a supporting function now,” says Hofmann. “IT … is becoming a driving force.”

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I am the editor of the CIO Network at Forbes, leading coverage of the rapidly evolving role of senior technology leaders. I also develop topics and programming for Forbes CIO events. Previously, I covered frontier technologies such as AI-driven cybersecurity and quantum computing for MIT Technology Review. Before that, I was a partner at a Silicon Valley VC firm that invests in enterprise tech, which I joined after covering the Valley for The Economist Newspaper for many years. Follow me on Twitter @martingiles.

Source: Volkswagen Is Accelerating One Of The World’s Biggest Smart-Factory Projects

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Igniting Passion And Diversity In STEM

It wasn’t until my first job out of college—one in the wireless business—that I developed a passion for technology and saw how STEM impacts everything we do. This was the spark that led me to fall in love with the network engineering elements of wireless, and the more immersed I got in the industry, the more exposed and interested I was in other components of technology.

Now, as the father of a teenage daughter who’s interested in STEM subjects and potentially even computer science, I want her to find her own opportunities, discover where her passions lie, and to ensure she has the resources and encouragement to pursue them.

In the U.S., there simply aren’t enough people pursuing STEM to meet growing technology demands. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, “78 percent of high school graduates don’t meet benchmark readiness for one or more college courses in mathematics, science or English.” And then there are barriers to STEM advancement like four or six-year degree requirements for many jobs—which are remarkably difficult for most people to afford. So it’s not that surprising when people like Nasdaq vice chairman Bruce Aust say, “By 2020, there will be one million more computing jobs than there will be graduates to fill them, resulting in a $500 billion opportunity gap.”

What’s clear is we need to make it easier for people to experiment with STEM early in life, then create accessible and alternative opportunities to pursue their dreams. Equally important, we need to find ways to dramatically advance gender diversity in STEM fields to accelerate innovation around the world.

Fostering Excitement Around STEM Takes a Village

Organizations like the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS)—which I’m on the board of—partners with school districts around Western Washington State, and is an example of families, teachers, schools, and public and private sector businesses uniting to develop meaningful STEM education and advancement opportunities, because everyone involved can benefit. Hands-on learning and vocational programs like their After School STEM Academy is a great way to help students connect the dots of scientific principles in a fun way. And WABS’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers leverage Title IV funds to help students meet state and local academic standards—from homework tutoring to leadership opportunities that can turn into summer internships or jobs.

As students’ interests in STEM grow, it creates a fantastic opportunity for businesses to see passions play out through hackathons, group ideation, and other challenges. Recently, for the second consecutive year, T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge initiative—in partnership with Ashoka—called on youth aged 13 to 23 from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to submit big ideas for how they would drive change in their communities. T-Mobile received 428 entries—a 28% increase over last year—133 in the ‘Tech for Good’ category. Interestingly, one quarter of all the tech entries were focused on STEM projects and even more interestingly, 63% of all technology category applications were from young women. We saw submissions from apps to robots to video games—all with the goal of changing the world for good. Next up, we’ll announce the Top 30 teams and each of them will receive a trip to T-Mobile’s HQ for the three-day Changemaker Challenge Lab to supercharge their projects along with some seed funding. Three category winners will pitch their ideas to T-Mobile leadership for a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize. To say that these young people’s ideas are inspiring is an understatement!

Accelerating Innovation Through Gender Diversity and Inner-Sourcing

Women aren’t typically well represented in many STEM-focused industries. Gender diversity is crucial to designing and building innovative solutions around the world, including T-Mobile’s products and services. At least half of our customers are female, and of the more than 50,000 employees who make up T-Mobile, 42% identify as female. If our product and technology employees don’t represent the diversity in our community, we stand to lose relevance in the market. By making diversity and inclusion a thoughtful, premeditated, sustained, and structural part of our recruitment and retainment of employees—including network engineers, software developers, data scientists, and other STEM professions—we’re able to foster a stronger company culture and build more innovative, customer experience obsessed products and services.

Let’s not forget that plenty of STEM-related jobs don’t include “engineer”, “developer”, or “scientist” in the job title across fields that intersect technology and digital customer experiences. One way we’ve cultivated the right talent at T-Mobile is “inner-sourcing” existing employees. For instance, through our Team of Pros program (TOPs), we provide opportunities for our frontline retail and customer care employees to apply for a 6 to 9-month program in a product management capacity to learn and work directly with engineering teams to ensure a tight coupling between what customers really want and the products, apps, training, and troubleshooting resources we design and develop. This is a great opportunity for our frontline employees to pivot into full-time STEM-related roles within T-Mobile corporate, without the need to pursue a formal technology-oriented education.

Championing STEM to Create a Better World

We live in a world where technology is omnipresent however connected, collaborative, and continuous STEM education isn’t equally accessible, and gender diversity is not well represented. To address pervasive global issues like climate change, resource inequality, economic stagnation, disease prevention, and others, we need diverse people who understand technical processes and technologies to work together to develop effective solutions. For those of us fortunate enough to reach a level of financial stability in STEM fields, we owe it to the future of our world to give back by leading and inspiring today’s and the next generation of technology leaders.

Cody Sanford is T-Mobile’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, leading the company’s digital transformation strategy fueling the Un-carrier revolution. He is responsible for spearheading the development of a product-centric technology organization that leverages the power of people, process and technology to bring to life T-Mobile’s innovative experiences for customers and frontline employees. Under Cody’s leadership, the Product & Technology organization is driving T-Mobile’s digital transformation, with an industry-leading software dev shop, expansion into adjacent products and services categories, and a leadership role in delivering open source innovations that solve large customer pain points.

Source: Igniting Passion And Diversity In STEM

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Many people in the world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have begun to question why the STEM workforce doesn’t reflect the diversity of society at large. In this talk, Jess Vovers tackles some key questions: What is diversity? Why does it matter? Why does STEM lack diversity? And what can we do about it? Jessica Vovers is a PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Melbourne, with a focus on sustainable solvents. When she’s not painting herself blue, she’s usually playing video games or riding her bike. Jess advocates for diversity in STEM through her work with Science Gallery Melbourne and mentoring with Curious Minds. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

 

Chinese Drone Air Taxi Maker EHang Files For $100 Million IPO On Nasdaq

EHang, a Chinese company that is preparing to launch what could be the first autonomous air taxi service, filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to go public on the Nasdaq with a $100 million offering of depository shares.

In January, EHang became the first company to receive approval from Chinese aviation regulators to establish a pilot air taxi service. EHang is planning an initial cross-river route in its home city of Guangzhou using a two-seat, 16-rotor autonomous passenger vehicle called the EHang 216. The company is hoping to expand to other major cities in China, where crushing traffic congestion makes the prospect of an aerial alternative tantalizing, as well as internationally.

While it’s been developing its passenger vehicles, EHang has made a name for itself, and some money, by staging light shows with hundreds of coordinated small drones, as well as selling surveillance drone systems. According to Derrick Xiong, a cofounder of the company and its chief marketing officer, the light shows have given EHang valuable experience that is helping it to perfect software that will be capable of coordinating a large network of passenger-carrying vehicles. “When we build a three-dimensional transport system, we need to be able to control thousands of aircraft,he told Forbes in a phone conversation last month.

Today In: Business

Xiong says that in addition to air taxi services, the company has customers in China who want to use its passenger drones for sightseeing in scenic locations in the mountains or on the coast, as well as interest in Norway to use them to transport workers and supplies to offshore oil platforms.

Another market: speedy delivery of organs for transplant. In 2016, the U.S. biotech company United Therapeutics said it would order up to 1,000 of EHang’s first passenger drone, the one-seat EHang 184, to transport manufactured lungs and other organs its developing.

United Therapeutics and its subsidiary Lung Biotechnology have pumped $17 million into EHang in return for 2.9 million preferred shares, EHang’s F-1 filing says. The company has already delivered 38 passenger drones to customers and has a backlog of 28 orders, according to the filing.

EHang disclosed a net loss of $5.5 million for the first six months of 2019, up 42% from the same period in 2018, on $4.7 million in revenue, off 15.6%, as a rise in sales in its passenger and cargo drone businesses was undercut by a decline in its light show and surveillance drone operations. The company has raised $52 million in venture capital from funds including GGV Capital and ZhenFund.

EHang was founded in 2014 by Xiong, who had just returned to China after earning an MBA at Duke, and CEO Huazhi Hu, a software developer who had built an emergency dispatch system for the Beijing Olympics.

The EHang 216, which the company is manufacturing in Austria in collaboration with FACC, a maker of composite airframe parts, has a range of roughly 10 miles and a top speed of 99 mph. The company says it has safely conducted over 2,000 flight tests of the 216 and the 184, including in high winds.

Since June 2018, EHang has been operating a pilot drone food delivery service in Guangzhou the supermarket chain Yonghui within a roughly 6-mile radius of a store in the center of the city. Xiong said that the service had successfully completed 30,000 deliveries to distribution points where customers come to pick up their order.

It’s also launched a drone cargo delivery service with DHL-Sinotrans between an industrial park in Guangzhou and a DHL hub 5 miles away in Dongguan.

The share offering is being underwritten by Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, Needham & Co. and Tiger Brokers.

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I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Source: Chinese Drone Air Taxi Maker EHang Files For $100 Million IPO On Nasdaq

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Subscribe to our YouTube channel for free here: https://sc.mp/subscribe-youtube Chinese firm shows off its pilotless air taxi for the first time in Europe. Developed by Chinese drone company Ehang and Austrian aeronautics company FACC, the Ehang 216 was tested in Vienna, Austria on April 4. The flying taxi’s speed can reach up to 130 kilometres per hour and fly for 40 minutes. The flying taxi is expected to cost 200,000 euros (US$224,000). The autonomous flying car industry is rising, with aerospace giant Airbus and Boeing aiming to offer such service. However, regulations have yet to be made for this kind of transportation.

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