Our 13 Favorite Books of 2013 – The Huffington Post

Posted: 12/30/2013 11:27 pm

Since our own book, The Metropolitan Revolution, was published in June, we’ve encountered many other great books and amazing authors, who have inspired us, challenged us, and generally made us think. As 2013 comes to a close, here are 13 books (and a bonus e-book) you should investigate if you want to know more about why cities and metros matter, about the magnitude of the challenges that they are taking on, and about how they can do better.

1. William Antholis, Inside Out, India and China: Local Politics Goes Global. Antholis describes how India and China are becoming metropolitan nations, with an abundance of policy and economic innovation happening at the local level. His guide to the metropolitan intricacies and diversities of these fast growing countries (and emerging markets) comes at exactly the right time for U.S. metro leaders looking to connect across borders.

2. Ben Barber, If Mayors Ruled the World. Not only does Barber have the best title of the year, he has the most sweeping scope. He deftly shows how mayors across the globe are not only solving practical problems, they are also grappling with some of the biggest, most enduring questions in political philosophy.

3. Vishaan Chakrabarti, A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for Urban America. Chakrabarti’s beautifully designed manifesto is totally winning, with excellent infographics, and lively pop culture references. This the kind of book that reconnects urbanists with the passion that brought them into this field in the first place — and helps others understand why urbanists care so much about what they do.

4. Danny Dorling, Population 10 Billion. Dorling lays out not only different population scenarios, he also shows readers how to interpret these scenarios, and other stories people tell about the future of the planet. This sentence, “Being afraid only gets you so far; being determined moves you further on; being better informed can give you hope,” should be the policy wonk credo.

5. Thomas Dyja, The Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream. “Understanding America requires understanding Chicago,” Dyja declares, and then proceeds to argue his case. While William Cronin’s magnificent book Nature’s Metropolis showed readers how Chicago was the iconic American city of the 19th century, Dyja explains how Chicago was the incubator for American culture in the 20th century.

6. Leigh Gallagher, The End of the Suburbs. For decades, the traditional suburb seemed inevitable the perfect example of market satisfaction of desires. Gallagher’s smart and lively book explains that the suburbs were a product of policy, not just preference (updating Kenneth Jackson’s arguments in Crabgrass Frontier). She argues that, like cities before them, suburbs are shifting and changing to keep up with how people really live.

7. Victor Hwang & Greg Horowitt, The Rainforest. The secret to building the next Silicon Valley. Entrepreneurship and innovation depend on networks and relationships based on trust and reciprocity. Based on their own venture capital experience, Hwang and Horowitt explain why having the right raw ingredients for a flourishing company, community, or project is not enough — you need the right ecosystem.

Read more here.

Start-Up Spirit Emerges in Japan – The New York Times

Japanese Start-Ups Channel Samurai Spirit: The Samurai Startup Island, in a low-rent office district built on a landfill on Tokyo Bay, is at the vanguard of what many hope is a new generation of innovators.


Published: December 25, 2013

TOKYO — The 20-somethings in jeans sipping espresso and tapping on laptops at this Tokyo business incubator would look more at home in Silicon Valley than in Japan, where for years the surest signs of success were the gray suits of its corporate salarymen. But for those hoping the nation’s latest economic plan will drag Japan from its long malaise, the young men and women here at Samurai Startup Island represent a crucial component: a revival of entrepreneurship.

The signs of that comeback are still new, and tentative enough that the statistics on start-ups and initial public offerings have not caught up. But analysts and investors report that hundreds of new Internet and technology-related companies have sprung up in the last two to three years, creating an ecosystem of incubators like Samurai Startup Island and so-called accelerator new venture investment funds, which invest in early-state start-ups in hopes of cashing in.

Some top universities — the same ones that have long defined success as a job in an established company or elite government ministry — have begun not only to create their own incubators and venture funds, but also to develop curriculums on birthing start-ups. And while some young entrepreneurs say real progress will come only if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acts as promised to shake up Japan’s hidebound corporate culture, they say the stock market rally and broader optimism created by the economic plan known as Abenomics are already making it easier to find investors and customers.

“This is the beginning of something that could rejuvenate Japan,” said Mitsuru Izumo, the founder of Euglena Corporation, a biotechnology start-up valued at $1 billion, and one of the country’s most prominent new entrepreneurs. “If we don’t unleash our youth, then Japan will become too weak to survive another blow like Fukushima. Entrepreneurship is Japan’s last chance.”

For years, sagging entrepreneurial spirit has been cited as a major reason for Japan’s inability to save itself from a devastating deflationary spiral. The nation that produced Sony, Toyota and Honda has created few successors.

Read more here.

A creeping ascent – The Economist

THE world economy continued to recover from the financial crisis in 2013, albeit wanly. Stockmarkets around the world rallied (chart 1).

And companies are issuing what is likely to be a record amount of debt (chart 2), to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates.

The fear of further debt crises in the rich world receded as growth picked up and budget deficits declined (chart 3).

But most developed economies remain little bigger, if at all, than they were before the crisis struck; the contrast with many developing countries, notably China, is stark (chart 4).

The share of working-age adults in employment remains below its peak in most of the rich world (chart 5).

Banks face growing penalties for misconduct during the crisis from emboldened regulators (chart 6).

They are also hampered by more elaborate regulation and stricter capital requirements; in many cases, they are responding by curbing credit (chart 7).

Moreover, even this lacklustre performance is underpinned by central banks’ extremely loose monetary policy. The Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan have continued to print money on a huge scale to purchase bonds, in the hope of driving down long-term interest rates, while keeping short-term ones close to zero (chart 8).

When the Fed suggested in May that it might soon start scaling back its asset purchases, the mere prospect caused a rout in emerging-market currencies (chart 9), as investors withdrew their money in search of higher yields in advanced economies.

Read more here.


Rainforest Rev: When Incentives Backfire and the New Chilean Framework

December 24th, 2013

Happy Holidays from T2 Venture Creation and Global Innovation Summit+Week. We wish you have a peaceful and joyful 2014! We are proud to announce four major events during Global Innovation Week from leading organizations in Silicon Valley.

The events are tentatively scheduled for Feb 20. More details on these and other events coming soon. Remember to reserve the week of Feb 17-21 for Global Innovation Summit+Week!

The Latest News on Innovation Ecosystems – How Do We Create Innovative Environments in Companies, Communities and Countries?

Five Ways Incentives Kill Innovation
Henry Doss, Chief Strategy Officer of T2 Venture Creation, from Forbes
Reward systems can be counterproductive when they inhibit teamwork, trust, and other essential drivers of innovation. Read more here.

Surfing Toward the Future: Strategic Orientations for Innovation in Chile
National Council on Innovation and Competitiveness
The Chilean government’s comprehensive framework for understanding and harnessing the South American nation’s forces of innovation to address its energy production and consumption, the social impacts of advances in the biological sciences, and the changes and challenges coming in the field of education. Read more here.

Geoffrey Moore: Why Crossing The Chasm Is Still Relevant
A venture veteran describes the stages of evolution in a community’s acceptance of the disruption that can occur with innovation, including the point at which adopters “cross the chasm” to take a chance on a new solution. Read more here.

GM’s Next CEO: Mary Barra Should Always Have Been the Favorite
Motor Trend
Some observers feel new CEO of General Motors Mary Barra has spent too many years in Human Resources. Maybe that’s exactly the kind of experience more CEOs need. Read more here.

Why Some Communities Foster More Entrepreneurs Than Others
The Atlantic
A university study demonstrates the importance of social networks and trust to support entrepreneurial success. Read more here.

University Building Economy
Albuquerque Journal
University of New Mexico President Robert Frank was inspired to push his institution to play a larger role in his region’s startup economy after hearing T2 Venture Creation CEO Victor Hwang describe the Rainforest model of innovation ecosystems. Read more here.

Help Wanted: New Strategies Are Necessary to Increase Entrepreneurship in France
The French government must dramatically realign its policies if the struggling nation’s talented innovators are going to help pull the economy out of its current malaise. Read more here
J.B. Pritzker: Chicago is Tech Hub But Needs Capital, Young Talent
Chicago Sun-Times
Venture hero J.B. Pritzker targets the brain drain and other impediments that keep the Windy City from realizing its innovation potential. Read more here.
Private Sector Innovation? Think South Carolina, Not Silicon Valley
A unique approach to publicly funded innovation stands out in the Palmetto State. Read more here.
Why Nebraska Startups Should Be On Your Radar
A Midwestern mindset is on display in Nebraska, where hard work and humility lend their ecosystem a nose-to-the-grindstone focus and perseverance. Read more here.

Eight ways Europe can boost entrepreneurship – World Economic Forum

Author: Olaf Groth is Professor for Global Strategy, Economics, Management and Innovation at the Hult International Business School, UK.

For the past five years, Europe has been engaged in fierce debates about the best way to master the current economic crisis. The discussion has tackled everything from austerity packages and their socio-cultural appropriateness to stimulus programmes and the need for balance, the flawed split between monetary and fiscal responsibilities in the region, conflicts inherent in rating agencies, bankers’ incentives and corporate pay schemes.

All of these issues, however, while valid in their own spheres, are missing a larger point when it comes to Europe’s economic future: the continent’s economic development system is outdated and cumbersome and it is vulnerable to the shocks that the global economy (characterized by disruptive innovation and the flow of capital towards it) will continue to serve up. The model lacks the key ingredient that would lend speed, agility and robustness to an economy: an entrepreneur-driven innovation ecosystem (EDIE).

At an EDIE’s core is a class of entrepreneurial professionals drawn from a diverse range of disciplines “at scale and scope”. These are not just business majors and engineers, but also scientists, liberal arts majors, design professionals, and those without much formal education yet who have valuable life and work experience. This class then goes to work, injecting fresh thinking and novel solutions across a variety of industries. They are not afraid to fail, as this helps them to learn and iterate quickly. Their view is that what disrupts in the short term creates growth and stability in the longer term – and, in the process, creates entirely new categories of economic activity and employment.

Entrepreneurs do not function in a vacuum. An entire innovation ecosystem is required, with a flexible and fluid network of other actors, which nurtures, provides, guides and governs, and which can eventually integrate new ventures into the larger innovation value chains. These chains include angel investors and venture capitalists, new businesses and open innovation groups, private and public labs and universities, incubators and accelerators, city governments, small-business hubs, and a host of service providers to grease the wheels of innovation.

A system such as this can maintain growth when the rest of the economy stalls. It survives downturns because it is too well distributed to suffer near-death experiences, unlike automobile, heavy or banking industries. And it restarts quickly because the people who drive it thrive on uncertainty and are comfortable deferring safe pay cheques. This makes them more adventurous than larger organizations with more to lose when considering new activities.

An EDIE has very pronounced macro benefits. As a case in point, the San Francisco Bay Area, largely driven by its own EDIE (including the famed Silicon Valley), is now the 19th-largest economy in the world with a GDP of US$533 billion. Over the past 60 years, it has undoubtedly facilitated tremendous lasting value, not just in the form of revenues, but labour skills, industrial capabilities and productivity, for the US and other economies around the globe, notwithstanding periodic boom-and-bust cycles. In fact, it has emerged from the recent US mortgage crisis as an engine for local and national growth.

It is unreasonable, however, to expect Europe to be like California. In Europe, security and stability are essential cultural values that traditionally outweigh gold rush-like striving for opportunity. But Europe can still become more fluid and more welcoming of entrepreneurial innovation. The secret is in the design of the system. It must develop an EDIE that fits its cultural paradigm.

Factors that could jumpstart Europe’s EDIE include:

  1. A network of idea, opportunity and risk-share forums to generate a framework of engagement rules for the trust-based exchange of ideas and transactions.
  2. A network of hybrid joint-venture institutes that synthesize new ideas and ventures, while lowering transaction costs between parties.
  3. An innovation economy think tank to foster:
    • Thought-leadership on European-style entrepreneurial innovation.
    • Sharing of entrepreneurial abilities throughout the professional community, with a view to creating opportunity out of uncertainty, connectivity and complexity.
    • Insights into projected high-growth convergence spaces (eg smart infrastructure and cities, autonomous and electrified transportation, bio-informatics, synthetic biology, neural computing).
    • Educational case studies of successes and failures.
    • Exchanges with hubs in the global innovation economy on ideas, talent, capital and “trust equity”.
    • Tools that visualize and make more transparent the value of network interactions in the ecosystem.
  4. Social and commercial entrepreneurship programmes
  5. Public media programmes, which feature entrepreneurs as creators of public goods, who are valued and respected by society.
  6. Intrapreneurial career tracks for corporate employees, with the prospect of several opportunities or the return to established businesses, if initial ventures fail.
  7. Exchange programmes for corporate executives with entrepreneurial start-up teams.
  8. Angel and venture-capital tax legislation, with tax deductions for new venture investments, to validate the risks taken.

Europe needs innovation-driven growth now more than ever. There are too many young Europeans with talent and ideas ready to go elsewhere in the global innovation economy.

The theoretical ambition of behavioural science – Jason Collins’ Blog

11 DECEMBER 2013 BY 

From Richard Posner (HT: Ryan Murphy):

[Behavioral economics] is undertheorized because of its residual, and in consequence purely empirical, character. Behavioral economics is defined by its subject rather than by its method and its subject is merely the set of phenomena that the most elementary, stripped down rational-choice models do not explain. It would not be surprising if many of these phenomena turned out to be unrelated to each other, just as the set of things that are not edible by man include stones, toadstools, thunder-claps, and the Pythagorean theorem. Describing, specifying, and classifying the empirical failures of a theory is a valid and important scholarly activity. But it is not an alternative theory. …

The behavioralists’ lack of interest in, and indeed hostility to, evolutionary theory is an example of their lack of theoretical ambition. But it is more. Most though by no means all behavioralists are political liberals. The use of evolutionary theory to explain human social rather than merely physical traits, the use that goes by the name “sociobiology” (recently renamed by its proponents “evolutionary ecology” because of the negative connotations that “sociobiology” had acquired among the politically correct) is anathema to liberals – as, indeed, is economics; and much of “behavioral economics” is really anti-economics. Political bias is especially conspicuous in the neglect by the behavioralists of vengeance, though it is the best attested example of the “fairness” instinct. Liberals do not like vengeance and prefer to think that our instinct for fairness is dominated by altruistic concerns that might provide a foundation for organizing society along socialist or collectivist rather than free-market lines. Read more.

University building economy – Albuquerque Journal


In today’s knowledge economy, the role that universities play is taking on a fundamental transformation. Many public research universities are now recognized as economic engines that drive their state’s innovation. At UNM, we not only embrace this evolution but also seek to accelerate it as a catalyst to a better economy. From Los Alamos to White Sands with Sandia and the Air Force Research Labs in between, New Mexico is blessed with the best national research labs in America. By linking these labs with our research universities’ ability to bring knowledge from mind to market, we kick into high gear the momentum needed to help business and industry thrive.

Last year, we hosted an economic development summit in which venture capitalist and author Victor Hwang addressed an audience that included Gov. Susana Martinez, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and leaders from our state’s universities, national laboratories and government and business communities. Hwang described a “Rainforest” model where people of diverse backgrounds and talents converge to develop an “ecosystem” of mutual collaboration and trust that supports innovation – a model that has begun to take root here in Albuquerque.

Universities such as ours are central to bridging the connections to industry, research assets and government. The past year has seen an unprecedented convergence of public and private sector collaboration in developing the Innovate ABQ initiative to create, grow and attract new companies and jobs. While the project is still before our regents, what is truly exciting is the sense of shared ownership in constructing a model that has the power to transform New Mexico’s economy. The operative word here is “shared” – simply put, having skin in the game. Success is not possible without sharing the vision, investment and risk required. Success is not possible without sharing and advancing the anticipated benefits.

While a healthy economic environment is essential, a place where we can truly thrive is really about people. For us to live and work here, we must be able to find opportunity here. A 2011 National Governors Association report, “Degrees for What Jobs?” states, “A new era of educational strength and economic competitiveness lies not only in getting more students into – and successfully out of – college, but also in institutions of higher education helping to create new, well-paying jobs in the economy and getting our graduates ready for those jobs.”

At UNM, we have re-engineered our student success model, to emphasize the first-year experience, retention and degree completion. But we must also look beyond the degree. If higher education is not only going to drive economic growth but truly help it thrive, the success of our students must be supported by a job market that anticipates and develops jobs that match those degrees.

According to a 2010 Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report, it is estimated that the United States will come up at least 3 million post-secondary degrees short of employers’ demands by 2018. By cultivating and retaining a highly educated workforce supported by universities collaborating with public and private partners, we can optimize our ability to provide our scholars, scientists, communities and entrepreneurs a place in which to thrive. Read more here.