By Eilif Trondsen, Ph.D., Chair, Special Interest Group on Entrepreneurship and Learning, Silicon Vikings; and Director, Strategic Business Insights
This article is a companion piece to Silicon Valley Innovation Outposts, and contain the mini-case studies for the 25 companies I provided very brief summary descriptions of in the main article.
Please note that the mini-case studies are presented in the same order in which they appeared in the main article, and references numbers in the mini-case studies refer to the numbers in the References and Resources section of the main article.
One of the most well-known and early SV-IO may be Xerox Parc, founded in 1970 as a division of Xerox Corporation. What is now PARC—Palo Alto Research Center Incorporated, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox since 2002—is legendary due to the quality of R&D done in PARC. But Xerox became the “poster child” for the challenges facing organizations when they try to leverage and commercialize radical and disruptive technologies such as those Xerox Parc created in the 1970s and 1980s.
This very large conglomerate, with revenues of $146 billion (2013), has expanded its footprint in SV significantly in last couple of years, including building a software center in San Ramon (and the bulk of the software now created in GE comes from this center). This is part of GE’s $1 billion initiative to use software to transform industry. GE also has a venture operation located on Sand Hill road (where most Silicon Valley venture companies are located). The software and analytics center has hired hundreds of engineers and data scientists since late 2011, reaching close to 1,000 engineers by end of 2014. The company’s San Ramon buildup is driven in part by its plan to build "Industrial Internet" related applications and services for GE. The company, which has 300,000 employees around the world, already has 5,000 software workers. The new center will focus on innovating software that runs increasingly intelligent machines and equipment. GE has also enlisted Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur Eric Riesto help develop FastWorks, based in part on his bestseller The Lean Startup, that will help make GE more agile, more effective, and quicker, in creating innovative products and services.
According to AutoNews, General Motors Advanced Technology Silicon Valley Office was set up in 2007 and has 7 employees. It “opened its office to have ‘eyes and ears on the ground’ in Silicon Valley, scouting for technology and trends that could help the company. Four employees take charge of those responsibilities, while another employee is an investment manager from GM Ventures, a capital division that invests in startup companies.” (6) One of GM’s most interesting innovations reportedly coming out of its SV-IO is a new HTML browser that will debut with the Cadillac ATS the summer of 2015. The browser is the heart of a new Cadillac CUE interface. With CUE and the HTML5 browser, Cadillac has gone almost entirely open-source. CUE also uses predictive tech and monitors objects around the car and your current state of alertness. (7)
The retailer is one of many in the same industry—some of which have signed up for Plug and Play’s targeted acceleration program (see below)—are trying to figure out how to use Silicon Valley technology to tap into the new ways that consumers shop. According to David Newman, head of Target's Technology Innovation Center in San Francisco, "The key areas we're focused on are the unexplored, and underexplored, sections of technology. This is where a presence in the Bay Area is so valuable." (8) According to Newman, next-generation e-commerce, artificial intelligence, big data and mobile technologies are all in his sights. His team also meets dozens of times each month with startups focused on those areas. Some of the startups take advantage of office space in the center. And while Target doesn't have a venture fund per se, a representative from the company's corporate development team is based in Newman's shop, in case those working relationships lead to discussions about investments or acquisitions.
Since its establishment in 2011, ATT has created 4 ATT Foundry innovation centers: Palo Alto, Atlanta, Plano/TX, and Ra’anana/Israel. According to the company, these foundries represent a $100 million investment from ATT and sponsors like Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Amdocs, Intel and Microsoft, and are fast-paced and collaborative environments, where AT&T and technology providers work to deliver applications and services to customers more quickly than ever before. Typical projects combine business, design and technical resources. More than 200 projects have been launched since the centers were established and dozens of new products and services have been deployed. Projects focus on areas of significant business or technology interest and typically involve external startups, innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, and inventors. Projects are organized in short ‘sprints’ designed to determine success or failure quickly. One example of how the ATT Foundry innovation centers stimulate future thinking, is FutureCast, a result of a partnership with Ericsson. FutureCast involves hosting of a series of salon-style discussions that bring the brightest minds together to tackle the future of a wide array of technologies. Each event brings together more than 50 leading experts – enterprise executives, startup founders, academics, journalists, and public officials – on a technology topic. ATT’s goal: “to vet, to debate, and ultimately to spark ideas that will set the course for our collective technology future.” (9)
The company is the world's largest company by revenue, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2014, and has long been an early adopter and intensive user of technology in its operations. The company’s innovation center and “skunk works”, Wal-Mart Labs, with 6 labs around the world, has had a presence in Silicon Valley for about a decade, and has its HQ in San Bruno (south of San Francisco). The innovation center has worked on projects related to current and emerging technology in mobile, website and social media. Wal-Mart Labs has been aggressively hiring engineers and developers in Silicon Valley but has also acquired many startups in technology areas of interest, including: TastyLabs (a software applications business that connects people via social software), OneOps (which enables continuous lifecycle management of complex, business-critical application workloads on any cloud-based infrastructure), Cosmic Vooodoo (a digital streaming service), Kosmix (which has developed a search engine that tried to determine a user’s intent), Tobit (site-speed optimizer), and Inkiru (predictive analytics platform). (10)
Ford Silicon Valley Lab was set up in 2013, focusing on big data and open-source programming projects such as Ford’s OpenXC platform, which makes it easier for coders to build customized applications and modules using data from inside a car. But in January, 2015, Ford significantly increased its Silicon Valley presence by opening the Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto to accelerate its development of technologies and experiments in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. The new center, which Ford hopes will enable the company to integrate more deeply into Silicon Valley’s ecosystem, will be headed by a former Apple engineer with significant experience in consumer electronics, semiconductors, aerospace and automotive tech. Ford also hopes to build a team of 125 professionals in the center, which would make the company one of the largest dedicated automotive research teams in the Valley. Many of the projects currently under way, include collaborations with researchers at Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon as well as with Silicon Valley companies such as Google (one project involves a partnership with Google’s Nest).
The company’s research operation in Silicon Valley, known as Lab126, has grown from a very small team in a shared space in Palo Alto law library in the Fall of 2004 to a larger presence in Cupertino City Center, to its current, larger operation in Sunnyvale. According to a Reuters News Service report in September, 2014, “Amazon will pour an additional $55 million into funding and staffing its Lab126 division in Silicon Valley, the R&D facility behind consumer devices like the Kindle, Fire TV and the recently released Fire smartphone.” (11) From documents Reuters reporters have seen, Amazon expects that by 2019 it will employ 3,757 full-time workers at the Lab126 facilities in Sunnyvale and Cupertino, a 27 percent increase in payroll. The company plans to accelerate development of home-automation technologies and make “the Internet of Things a reality,” and be ready for competitive battle with Apple, Google and others. The result will be to take the integration of software and hardware to the next level, and thereby enable new, innovative and disruptive products and services.
The large brewing company has long been involved in mobile and social marketing and has been present in Palo Alto, near Stanford University, for over 5 years. The SV-IO has been part of the company’s investment in “innovation and renovation,” which the company has found to have contributed 8% of its volumes in 2013. According to Paul Chibe, VP and Chief Marketing Officer for the company, he moved the entire digital team to Silicon Valley “…to be around people that are on the cutting edge of technology, and just to be immersed in the atmosphere of innovation and risk-taking.” (12)
The company’s operations in Silicon Valley have grown significantly from 1993, when SAP established the first development group outside its Walldorf HQ in Germany, and located it in Foster City. The company moved its operations to Palo Alto in 1997, located near PARC and changed the name to SAP Labs, and today has over 3,500 employees in four Bay Area locations. SAP Labs innovation activities involve a range of partners, including Stanford and UC Berkeley and others, and cover a very wide range of product and service areas and technologies. It is the home of SAP HANA, Startup Focus, Ecosystem and Channel, User Experience, Mobility Design Center, and SAP Ventures. The latter runs the company’s Investment Front Runner program that helps innovative and disruptive companies with SAP’s expertise, relationships and geographic reach in addition to capital. SAP Labs also supports the Business Process Expert Community, a collaborative community of business analysts, application consultants, and process developers. As noted in a report by San Jose Mercury News, “In the past few years, SAP has splashed out about $10 billion for cloud technology, scooped up a couple prominent Bay Area companies, built the AppHaus in Los Altos to experiment with mobile apps and recruited young entrepreneurs with Stanford degrees.” (14)
Swisscom’s SV-IO was launched in 1998 to “follow the Internet hype more closely,” according to Ursula Oesterle, the Head of Swisscom Outpost. Over the years, the activity level and role of the outpost has waxed and waned, as have the business and technology cycles of Silicon Valley, but the outpost has proven its value and today offers a variety of programs and activities in support of other parts of the company in Switzerland and elsewhere. The small, mixed staff of the outpost, consisting of employees from departments of Swisscom Switzerland who rotate every three or four years, focuses mostly on enterprise and IT business; residential (consumer) and medium sized businesses; and longer term issues relating to innovation practices and design thinking. Idea scouting remains a big part of the outpost activity, and one of the jobs of the outpost team is to find the very best ideas from the giant marketplace of mobile innovations in Silicon Valley (and beyond) and introduce them to headquarters in Bern, Switzerland. Swisscom Ventures is part of the outpost and the bulk of the international investments made—especially in telecom tech-related startups—are made in Silicon Valley. And every year the outpost organizes the Swisscom Startup Challenge that finds the most interesting startups for Swisscom and brings the winners to Silicon Valley for an intense acceleration program and giving the startups specific insights into the ecosystem of Silicon Valley.
EIT ICT Lab
Compared to many of the other SV-IOs described briefly in this article, EIT ICT Lab is a newcomer that had its “coming out party” in San Francisco in September 2014, after concluding it needed to build more and stronger connections to Silicon Valley. (One of the comments someone made at the launch party was that the organization needed to quickly come up with a new name, but it is a leading European organization for Innovation and Education in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), with units in a number of European countries.) While the organization has wide ranging interests, these four are key focus areas: Future of education (wanting to renew European higher education in ICT by cross-fertilizing cutting edge technical education with robust innovation and entrepreneurship education), urban life and mobility services, investing in entrepreneurship, and software defined networks. A small team is in place at Rocketspace accelerator in SF, and is now focused on hiring the local experts it needs to lead its future activities, including building partnerships with leading Silicon Valley players in industry and academia. These partnerships will look for synergies and leverage existing resources and research activities both in Silicon Valley and in EIT ICT Labs facilities across Europe.
In 2008, Ericsson established its research center in Silicon Valley, and its operations have grown steadily and rapidly as its scope and depth of operations have expanded. In May, 2014, the company announced that it would build a new facility that would consolidate its operations in Santa Clara. In an effort to accelerate innovation in the company, the new campus will bring together around 2,000 Ericsson staff dedicated to research and development in Internet Protocol (IP), TV and Media (which has gained prominence in the company since Ericsson acquired Microsoft’s Mediaroom TV platforms and services division in September, 2013), Software Defined Networks (a key area also of EIT ICT Labs), Network Functions Virtualization, and mobile innovations. According to Ericsson executives, “Ericsson’s expansion in Silicon Valley has grown in tandem with the region’s increasing gravitational pull on the technology sector.” (15) While strengthening its presence, Ericsson is continuing to build an open community in Silicon Valley with partners including the AT&T Foundry, Facebook, and the Linux Foundation OpenDaylight Project. Ericsson will continue its commitment to open the Internet.org Innovation Lab on Facebook's Menlo Park campus. The Ericsson-Facebook collaboration will give developers the ability to test their apps in real world environments at Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Born from a recent Facebook/Ericsson-hosted Internet.org efficiency hackathon, the Internet.org Innovation Lab will simulate network conditions typically found in growth markets, giving developers an environment to test and optimize their applications for new customers across different regions.
It is often interesting to look back and reflect on past developments and to read what was said in the past. Case in point: An article in San Jose Mercury News, in November 2007, describing Nokia’s establishment of the Nokia Research Center Palo Alto in 2006, said: “Nokia, a company that practically invented reinvention, proved in an age of globalization that a tech company could dominate a sector without a significant presence in Silicon Valley.” (16) That may have been true, but subsequent developments showed Nokia’s dominance was soon to take a sharp turn. But the article also noted that the opening of Nokia’s research center in Silicon Valley “illustrates how the valley's pre-eminence as an incubator of innovation has been enhanced by economic globalization, not diminished.” According to Nokia’s executives at the time, basing a team of technologists in Silicon Valley was critical to helping Nokia stay abreast of the rapidly advancing developments in mobile computing revolution. However, even though Nokia’s SV-IO grew in size it could not overcome the pathologies that Nokia’s new CEO, Stephen Esop (who came out of Silicon Valley-based firms like Juniper Networks, Macromedia and Adobe) referred to as having a corporate culture that made it hard to get things done, whether in internal projects or in external strategic partnerships. While the Palo Alto Research Center has been closed, Nokia Networks—which is one of the core units of the “new Nokia”—has a presence in Mountain View, and runs the company’s Silicon Valley Open Innovation Challenge, among other things. The challenge, which was also supported by Nokia Growth Partners, Nokia Technologies and the Telecom Council of Silicon Valley, invited participants to submit innovation solutions for big data analytics and telco cloud, two of the most disruptive areas for mobile networks.
Siemens sees itself as an emerging industrial IT powerhouse with the worldwide scope of a 167-year-old multinational corporation and the disruptive spirit of a start-up. Together, Siemens and Silicon Valley are combining entrepreneurship and engineering. This quest to integrate into the Silicon Valley ecosystem began in 1999 when Siemens Technology-to-Business (TTB) unit was established in Berkeley (due to close collaboration with UC Berkeley). According to Europe and the Bay Area report (13), “TTB scouts emerging, disruptive technologies that could impact Siemens’ position in the market, with university partnerships and start-ups as the medium. Eighty percent of its projects involve start-ups (roughly one-third located in the Bay Area and two-thirds elsewhere in the US) and 20 percent involve universities.” Siemens SV-IO leverages its TTB, Siemens Venture Capital, and Corporate Technology units to find, fund and forge the breakthroughs that will harness the power of data to make things real. Thus, much of the focus of Siemens, not surprisingly, is on its version of “Internet of Things” which it refers to as “the Web of Things (WoT).” Like GE, it envisions a world where most physical objects are interconnected via the Internet. The company’s New Venture Forum, run every year to find interesting startups, in 2014 focused on these four WoT-related themes: Future of Manufacturing, Smart Grid, Energy & Sensors, and Horizontal IT. Like a number of other companies running such venture forums, Siemens gains new technology and business insights while the startups get coaching from TTB venture technologists and deepen their understanding and interest in engaging with Siemens.
BNP Paribas Technology Innovation Center—known as L’Atelier BNP Paribas—is a media and consulting company specialized in tracking innovation, and the San Francisco unit is one of three global technology outposts for France’s BNP Paribas Bank, one of the largest banks in the world. According to Frédéric Tardy, when he was the CEO of BNP Paribas in San Francisco (2009-2013), his most important job was to “stay up to date in technology and social media developments to enable our clients to adapt their business model to fit into the digital generation of the 21st century (specifically Internet, mobile, e-commerce, social media, financial services, e-payment, e-money, disruptive technology)” (17) As noted in the Europe and the Bay Area report, L’Atelier's former CEO. Sergio Herrero (current CEO is Nathalie (Cordonnier) Doré), says “Our job is to scout, understand the trend, and explain to BNP how it will impact the group. Then, we decide whether to address it in-house (if the trend isn’t mature enough to have startups working on it). Or, if the trend is mature enough, we’ll look for startups or other partners, such as PayPal or Google, to go to market.” (13) L’Atelier main activities focus on consulting (with large French clients, mostly), media (through journalists and analysts in the SF office), and events to facilitate networking and dialog on relevant and actual subjects of interest to L’Atelier and its clients.
In 2013 Vodafone sold its stake in Verizon Wireless. The following year it announced that the company would move its Silicon tech incubator back to London and boost Vodafone xone hub in London, with a focus on developing mobile technologies, building and testing prototype devices and developing apps and services tailored for the group's biggest markets in Europe, Africa and India. Despite these actions, however, Vodafone retains a Silicon Valley presence through its Vodafone Innovation Program, part of Vodafone Global Enterprise, which supplies total communications services to multinational business customers. In an interesting presentation to an Intrapreneurship Meetup group event on March 4, 2015, Shannon Lucas, Senior Enterprise Innovation Manager, Vodafone Global Enterprise, presented the thinking behind and activities involved in their carefully designed innovation operations. Shannon described key parts of Vodafone’s global innovation efforts, including Vodafone ventures, industry forums, co-creating centers, R&D centers, innovation workshops and Vodafone Foundation. She noted how Vodafone’s innovation processes are focused on their customers, often involving co-creating efforts with their customers as well as Vodafone partners around the world. Internal innovation activities often result in new business ideas, and are driven by large number of Vodafone innovation champions around the world. The company even has a five-step “level up” program for their Vodafone innovation champions.
This UK-based company is the world’s leading learning company, with over 40,000 employees in more than 89 countries, serving K12 and Higher Education sectors as well as consumers directly with a wide range of learning products and services. Since Silicon Valley is a leading hot spot for edtech companies, many of which come out of Stanford University and/or incubated in Silicon Valley edtech-focused incubators (such as Imagine K12 or the game-based learning incubator in SF created in a partnership between NewSchools Venture Fund and Zynga.org, the non-profit arm of the social gaming company Zynga), it is perhaps not surprising that Pearson is actively monitoring the edtech startup scene from its base at Rocketspace. Rocketspace is a Pearson partner, and member of its Pearson Catalyst for Education program, which helps accelerate and offer resources and potential partnerships with innovative edtech startups, and provides a number of corporate innovation program services as well as services for startups, including Catalyst participants that Pearson sponsors.
While Nissan’s focus area in Silicon Valley is on autonomous vehicles (as Nissan CEO has set a goal to have an autonomous vehicle ready for the market by 2020), Honda’s Silicon Valley operations are more focused on human-machine interface, big data, and cybersecurity, in addition to connected vehicles. Honda Silicon Valley Lab opened in May 2011 and according to Auto News, the SV-IO’s team “looks into strategic alliances with Bay Area companies and has a prototype development team that builds concepts for next-generation information technology.” And with the growing automotive interests of Google, Apple and other non-auto companies in Silicon Valley, in addition to the growing automotive-related ecosystem in the region, Honda and the other companies will have front row seats on the evolving trends and rumors on new and emerging tech and business development relating to transformation of personal and industrial transportation.
In 2014, the company added a new Business Innovation Center (BIC) in Foster City, adding to the R&D operation the company has had in San Mateo and other Bay Area locations for over 10 years. While the company’s R&D focused on leveraging its deep expertise in materials, imaging, optical, and nano-fabrication technologies, the Japanese company of over 40,000 employees is looking to transform its operations by developing new customer-focused services that will create new businesses, and new business models, for the company. The BICs—located in Singapore, London, China and Japan, in addition to Silicon Valley—which will complement existing R&D operations of the company, look to collaborate with research institutes, business partners and startup as they look for ways to leverage current and emerging information and communications technologies into new business opportunities. And the role of the Silicon Valley BIC (headed by Ekta Sahasi, a Stanford-educated, 15-year entrepreneurial veteran of start-ups and Fortune 500 companies throughout Silicon Valley) goes beyond just finding new technologies and developing new services, to also “bringing the fabric of Silicon Valley into Konica Minolta and driving a fundamental culture as well as business transformation,” according to a report by American Printer (19). In addition to creating new commercial partnerships, making strategic investments, and seeking appropriate mergers and acquisitions, the Silicon Valley BIC will look for new and emerging technology and industry trends, determining how they can best take advantage of these trends and then evangelize them inside Konica Minolta.
The huge Korean conglomerate with over 400,000 employees (including 4,000 in Silicon Valley, up 30% in the last 2 years) and over $325 Billion in revenues, has long had a Silicon Valley presence. Samsung Electronics has run research and development and sales operations for displays and semiconductors out of offices in the San Francisco Bay Area, for over three decades. But in recent years the company has increased significantly its commitment to Silicon Valley, and now hopes to be one of the top 5-10 employers in the region in the next 5 years. A major new Samsung campus will open next year in north San Jose, and four businesses have been created to tap into the resources and expertise of Silicon Valley: (1) Strategy & Innovation Center (located on Sand Hill Road), searching for new technology, investments and partnerships for the company; (2) Samsung Design America (SDA), which has hired leading designers from top Silicon Valley design firms; (3) Open Innovation Center, which runs an accelerator, forms partnerships and makes acquisitions and investments in startups focused on software and services—two areas where Samsung has had major weakness in the past; and (4) Media Solutions Center America, which creates its own software and services for the company’s devices and works with developers makings apps for its products. These Silicon Valley operations will serve a number of functions, including helping Silicon Valley companies navigate and communicate with key decision makers in Korea. But the plan is also for important, strategic decisions to be made more in Silicon Valley rather than by executives in Seoul.
The Japanese consumer electronics giant established in New York City in 1959 but was known as Matsushita until returning to the Panasonic name in 2005 for branding purposes. The year before this change, the company consolidated its research operations and focused these operations in Silicon Valley (Panasonic R&D Center Silicon Valley, moving into new facility in Cupertino in 2010) and Princeton, NJ. In addition, the company has had its venture capital unit in Cupertino, making investments in companies with compelling technologies aligning with Panasonic’s innovation strategies in areas of consumer electronics, housing, automotive, and B2B solutions. A major initiative that the company has pursued in Silicon Valley has been a strategic alliance and partnership with Tesla to build what it calls a “Gigafactory” for production of Li-ion batteries in the US (the facility will be built in Nevada and it was recently announced that the plant will begin operations in 2016, earlier than initially planned).
The company, often referred to as “China’s Google” (as it dominates search in China), raised its initial $1.2 million in seed capital in Silicon Valley at the beginning of 2000 and returned 9 months later to raise another $10 million at the time of the Internet bubble bursting in Silicon Valley and Baidu took off in China. After years of rapid growth, the company now has a market cap of around $75 billion and returned to Silicon Valley in 2014, not to raise more money but to build its Silicon Valley operation (known as Baidu USA). Baidu USA consists of 2 parts: (1) Baidu USDC, whichdevelops Internet-related business opportunities and advanced technologies in areas such as advertising, security, big data and cloud computing; and (2) Baidu Research, which brings together global research talent to work on fundamental technologies in areas such as image recognition and image-based search, voice recognition, natural language processing and semantic intelligence. Baidu Research comprises three labs: the Silicon Valley AI Lab, the Institute of Deep Learning and the Big Data Lab (The latter are based in Beijing, China). These two parts of Baidu’s SV-IO will play a crucial part in ensuring that the company’s impressive performance and growth will continue long term. The company has said it will invest $300 million in the Silicon Valley lab over the next five years, and began by hiring leading computer scientists from Stanford and startups in the Valley focused on fundamental technologies related to the future of search. And being within close reach of world-class computer scientists in Silicon Valley, and interacting with them at Stanford, Meetup events about deep/machine learning and other topics Baidu researchers are focusing on is why Baidu located in Silicon Valley.
While Baidu has gained visibility in Silicon Valley by hiring some of the area’s leading computer scientists, China’s leading eCommerce company, Alibaba, has gained attention because of its largest IPO ever, valued at $25 billion, in September, 2014. Not surprisingly, but for very different reasons than Baidu, Alibaba is now also expanding its Silicon Valley presence. Recent steps the company has taken here include; Creation of a data center and cloud-development center (to go up against Amazon Web Services and other similar services from major US tech companies) and reportedly targeting Chinese companies with US outposts; launch of 11 Main, an online retail market (with facilities in San Mateo, CA), and making numerous investments in (including acquisitions of) early-stage tech companies in Silicon Valley. These investments include gaming company Kabam Inc., mobile deep-linking company Quixey Inc., mobile messaging platform TangoMe Inc., ride-sharing app developer Lyft Inc., and smartphone remote-control company Peel Technologies Inc. Given the very deep pockets and very ambitious plans of the company, in China and worldwide, its Silicon Valley operations will likely result in numerous more strategic alliances with local tech companies (perhaps including with Apple for its Apple Pay mobile payments platform) as well as strategic investments and acquisitions of companies with interesting technologies or products and services that Alibaba can help introduce in its home market in China.
The Japanese IT services company of around 170,000 employees established Fujitsu Laboratories of America in Silicon Valley in 1993, to extend the global reach of Fujitsu R&D and support what it refers to as “our collective vision of a human centric intelligent society”. The company’s plans was to leverage its locations in North America to foster an open and networked innovation ecosystem, working closely with top universities, research institutions, standards groups, the startup venture community, and Fujitsu North America companies and their customers and partners. In 2012, FUJITSU TEN LIMITED announced that its U.S. subsidiary FUJITSU TEN Corp. of America would open a new R&D facility, referred to as Silicon Valley Creative Square (SCS), in Sunnyvale. SCS was meant to carry out advanced technology related surveys, discoveries and research in North America, and also planned to develop prototypes for connected systems (in-car devices and services) as part of collaborative projects with other FUJITSU Group companies and in alliances with external partner companies. The establishment of SCS was meant to help the FUJITSU TEN Group to create new products and services that take advantage of the latest trends in this key leading market. FUJITSU TEN positioned SCS as an important contributor to its growth strategy for developing the telematics business, and for providing drivers with real-time traffic and vehicle information.
Eilif—a transplanted Norwegian who has spent his whole professional life in Silicon Valley—has led and participated in a number of syndicated research programs and numerous consulting projects during his 35 years at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) and Strategic Business Insights (a spin-out from SRI, located on the Menlo Park campus of SRI). He has also been Adjunct Professor of Economics at a number of Bay Area universities. Most of his work has focused on eCommerce, Learning, Innovation, and Virtual Technologies, and in recent years much of his work has focused on the Nordic region, especially Finland and Norway, including projects for Tekes and the Norwegian Research Council, and two projects funded by Nordic Innovation. He has been a Board member of Silicon Vikings for the last 5 years, and have been the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Entrepreneurship and Learning since its beginning.