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Course Overview

Comparative Innovation Ecosystems :: Europe v Silicon Valley


Continental Europe today serves as the core model for regional innovation economies and ecosystems around the world. Key structural elements of this model include family-owned enterprises, public universities, a strong State role, and a focus on traditional industries, especially manufacturing, commerce and agriculture. Silicon Valley, in contrast, is the leading exception globally to the dominant European model. As Europe faces growing competition from China and the US in computing and artificial intelligence (AI), are its traditional science, industry and growth platforms adequate to secure Europe’s future competitiveness, prosperity, sustainability and societal well-being? What lessons does Europe offer for Silicon Valley and Asia?

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Course Methodology

Systems Design & Design Thinking

Ethnography & Cultural Anthropology :: Identity, Self-Image, Narrative, Taboos, Groupthink, Herd Behavior, 'Blind Spots' & 'Holes'


This course employs a ‘comparative innovation ecosystems’ approach to deconstruct and analyze in depth the fundamental differences - and similarities - between Continental Europe and Silicon Valley. Particular attention is paid to institutional models; to science, industry, engineering and design traditions and cultures; to group identity, taboo, groupthink, herd behaviors, ‘blind spots’ and dominant narratives; and to system performance criteria.
In exposing students to such ethnographic/cultural anthropology methods of understanding group behaviors and mindsets, the course seeks to move beyond the usual Silicon Valley discussion of ‘startups’, ‘venture capital’, ‘innovation’, ‘founder biographies’ and ‘company culture’ - and past the usual European narratives around ‘digital transformation’ and ‘platforms’ - to understand the deeper underlying institutional structures and social foundations of entrepreneurship and innovation on the Continent and in Northern California. And perhaps also to identify new ways forward for Europe and the United States.

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Sponsors 2020

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Center for Design Research (CDR), ME Design Group

Time | Location

Mondays 2:30 - 5:20 PM | Winter Quarter
Building 550 | d.School Building
Stanford University, Engineering Campus
550 Panama Mall
Stanford, CA 94305

Stanford Students & Faculty | Invited Speakers & Guests
Attendance by Invitation Only
Parking and On-Campus Directions

Schedule 2020 - Year Eleven

January 6

Course Overview & Intro; Strategic Landscape; Role of 'The State'; 'The Community' v 'The Individual'; Sustainability v Growth; Methodology; Student Design Projects


Session #1

Speakers: Prof. Christophe Crombez, KU Leuven & Stanford FSI|The Europe Center (BE); Paula Salomaa, Business Finland (FI)

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Europe's Strategic Challenge: China, USA, Software and Computing

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Role of 'The State' (L’état); 'The Community' v 'The Individual'

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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & 'Sustainability' v 'Growth' :: Foundations of European Economic Strategy, Values and Identity

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'The Matrix' European-Style: How Europe Actually Works v How Europe Says It Works; 'EuroSpeak' v Herd Behavior, Conformism, Social Taboos & Self-Image

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Using Ethnography & Cultural Anthropology to Deconstruct Innovation Ecosystems

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Student Team Design Projects

January 13

Startups, Venture Capital, Accelerators, University Entrepreneurship, Private Equity, Corporates, M&A


Session #2

Speakers: Marco Marinucci, MindTheBridge (SV|IT); Stefan Batory, Booksy (PL); Ugo Catry, Total Energy (FR); Daniel Torres Laguardia, Telefonica (ES)

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What are the Factors Underlying the Strong Growth of Europe's Startup Hubs and Venture Finance System? London, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Dublin, Wien, Helsinki, Tallinn, Warsaw, Prague

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Europe's Corporations: Startup Engagement, Open Innovation, Mergers & Acqusitions (M&A), and Valuations; Management Practices, Hierarchies, Governance and Corporate Culture

January 27

Family-owned Enterprises and Management Culture in Europe; State-owned Enterprises


Session #3

Speakers: Georg Fuerlinger, Advantage Austria | WKÖ (AT); Ege Ertem, Zorlu Ventures (TR); Michael Kelly (US); Andreas Jossen, SBB (CH); Christian Loewe, Deutsche Bahn (DE)

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How Has the Family-ownership Model Shaped Continental European Thinking About Corporate Culture, Structure, Management and Governance? How Does This Tradition Constrain Culture Change in Companies?

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How Has the Family-owned Sector Influenced the Mission and Structure of the European University and Science Ecosystem?

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How are State-owned Enterprises Similar|Dissimilar to Family-owned Enterprises? in Corporate Culture, Transparency, Use of Information Technology, Governance?

February 3

European Science, Engineering, Design and Industry Traditions, Cultures and Systems


Session #4

Speakers: Jeppe Dorup Olesen, Innovation Center Denmark - Silicon Valley (DK); Dr. Jan Auernhammer, Stanford Center for Design Research (DE)

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How Have Europe's Strong Science|Mathematics Traditions and Culture Shaped Its Approach to Commercialization of University Inventions? to Teaching of Software Engineering?

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Why are Mechanical Engineering and Manufacturing Accorded High Status in European Industry, Society and Universities? How Does this Compare to the United States?

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What are the Challenges and Opportunities for European Companies to Adopt 'Design Thinking' Practices? How Does 'Design' in Europe Differ from 'Design Thinking'?

February 10

Public vs Private: Universities, Business Schools, Coding Academies; Foundation Universities; Higher Education Cultures; University Reforms


Session #5

Speakers: Manuel Dolderer, CODE University (DE); Kwame Yamgnane, Ecole42 (FR); Fabrizio Capobianco (IT)

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The Role, Mission, Structures and Governance of Public Universities: Patterns in Business and Informatics Faculties

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The Rise of Competing Models: Emergence of Private and Foundation Universities, Business Schools and Coding Academies; University Reform Initiatives

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How Does the Role, Elite Status, 'Freedom' and Protection of Professors Influence University Innovation Culture and Science Focus and Impact? Are European Professors & Scientists Held Sufficiently Accountable?

February 24

Software, AI & Computing Industry: Status, Competencies, Education & Research, Roadmap; Computer Science v 'Informatique'


Session #6

Speakers: Andy Bechtolsheim, Arista Networks (SV | DE); Sam Yen, (formerly) SAP Silicon Valley (US); Zehra Cataltepe, Tazi.ai | Istanbul Technical University (TR); Kai Goebel, Xerox PARC (SV | DE); Charles Petrie, (emeritus) Stanford Center for Design Research (US)

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How Did Europe Arrive at Its Current Structural Weakness in Computing, Software Industry, Cloud Infrastructure, Data and AI?

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What are Europe's Strengths in Software? Enterprise, Gaming, Fintech, eCommerce, Cybersecurity, IoT, Wellness, Transportation Services, IT Outsourcing, Embedded Systems, Drupal, Open Source; SAP, SoftwareAG, Adyen, Dassault, Spotify, Transferwise, N26, Ubisoft, Skype, AVG, ESET, Wargaming, EPAM and More

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What Happened to Europe's Computer Companies? Why Did They Fail? What Lessons Can Be Learned? Olivetti, Nixdorf and Groupe Bull

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Computing Hardware - Semiconductors & Electronics: Chips, Mobile, ARM, Infineon, Nokia, NXP, Arduino and Beyond

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How is 'Informatics' Different from 'Computer Science'? Foundations, Historical Roots and Reforms

March 2

Cleaning House: Corporate Malfeasance||Mis-Management as a Barrier to Innovation Performance; The Roles of Legal and Media Regimes in Exposing/Hiding Scandal; Investigative Journalism & Transparency


Session #7

Speakers: Kai Westerwelle, Bird & Bird (SV | DE); Matthias Hohensee, WirtschaftsWoche (SV | DE); Anna Gielewska, Knight Journalism Fellow, Stanford University (PL)

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Corporate Misbehavior in Europe: The Case of Volkswagen

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Corporate Malfeasance in Silicon Valley: Theranos, Uber, WeWork

March 9

Innovation for The Commons: Cities, Infrastructure, Mobility & Transport; Social Innovation; Lessons for Silicon Valley & Asia; Student Design Projects


Session #8

Speakers: To Be Announced

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Urban Design, Mobility & Sustainability; High Speed Rail, Bicycles, Scooters, Walkways, Autonomous Vehicles, Social Entrepreneurship

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What Can Silicon Valley Learn from Europe?

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What Can Asia Learn from Europe?

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Presentations: Student Team Design Projects


Featured Videos

Ukraine & Russia - 2015

European Tech Media

Poland & Austria - 2015

UK & Croatia - 2014

Angry Birds & Prezi - 2013

European Market Entry