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Posts Tagged ‘funding

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, You are my Hero

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A friend of mine who is a scientist shared with me about Douglas Prasher’s story. When I was a little kid, I consider the following careers very cool / glamorous / glorious : pilot, adventurers (e.g. Columbus, Everest), scientists, astronauts, … and many others.

However, my friend said that being scientists is not all glorious, there is no guarantee that one can meet one’s basic survival needs (according to the Maslow’s hierarchy) of food, clothes, shelter / home, even after one has done high quality work that deserves Nobel Prize like what happened to Douglas Prasher.

In brief, the Nobel Prize I am referring to is for the discovery and engineering of fluorescent proteins – molecules that can glow in the dark. Sound so fun!

The fluorescent proteins are powerful research tools and have become the foundation of a multimillion-dollar industry.

Prasher was not included among the Nobel laureates, as only 3 individuals can share a single Nobel Prize. “The glow of the GFP gene may have illuminated biology, but Prasher has remained in the shadows.” The humble ^ Laureate Martin Chalfie credited Prasher’s contribution:
“(Douglas Prasher’s) work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab. They could’ve easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out.”

^ To share the best of the best to you dearest readers, I have carefully studied Nobel Laureates and summarize their strengths that worth emulating.

My friend J, who is also a scientist and used to work 7 days a week from 9 am to 11 pm daily, shared with me that there are sadly numerous unacknowledged contributions in science. She told me that a lady called Rosalind Franklin also deserves a Nobel Prize but she died too early. J told me that she cried reading the story of Prasher.

To quote discovermagazine, the vanishing act of Douglas Prasher “provides a glimpse into what it takes to flourish in modern-day science, where mentorship, networking, and the ability to secure funding can be as important as talent and intelligence.”

Dear aspiring scientists (especially graduate students), I hope that my sharing provide you with additional perspective. One of a leader of a science research institute sadly told me (in a chance encounter in a public transport) that in the past only the rich can do scientific research because they do not have to trade their time to earn a living. These people were for example the landlord who receive passive income ; they have the time (one of the most priceless commodity in the universe), the brain energy & physical energy to carry out scientific experiments.

He also shared with me about his personal experience, he was previously trained as a medical doctor (a career that may guarantee a better earning), but later switched to become a scientist. Few years down the road after he has children, he woke up in the middle of night sweating and worrying on how to finance his mortgage. The good news is his children are now grown-up.

Dear aspiring scientists, your professors and successful scientists you meet would rarely tell you such stories because they need workers. Graduate students are very cheap to the extent that they are free to the professors. You will rarely meet unsuccessful scientists because they are no longer around in the labs / meetings / conferences to warn you / to be naysayers for you who will eventually become successful scientists. Do not give up on your chosen career easily. After all, scientists will meet countless failures (positive people prefer to refer a failure as a learning experience) because they are at the frontier of discovery and innovation. You really need perseverance in the pursuit of science, science needs you, our world need you ; but one must not neglect what is entrusted to him by the Universe / the Creator / God, e.g. young children to feed, nurture, take care.

Dear aspiring scientists, do not be disheartened by what I share here because if you are really passionate about science, you want and you should give it your best, until you really meet dead ends. You can be like Douglas Prasher, to be humble and willing to take other kinds of jobs, including being a bus driver at $8.50 an hour. I respect bus drivers, they provide essential service to many people, and I personally rely on them often. I view them as my everyday heroes who courier me safely from a place to another. But to be honest, one who had worked as a scientist must have to endure the words of their past colleagues on becoming a bus driver. If you master the art of endurance, are willing to work hard and have integrity in life, no matter what you do / your career / job, you will have inner happiness, which is much more important than prestige (e.g. awards) / glamor. If you want to be successful in a particular career, perseverance * and resourcefulness ^ are essential.

* “Doug doesn’t have the ‘Goddammit, you’re not going to stop me’ attitude,” Ward says.”
^ “It was the kind of resourcefulness that Prasher seemed to lack.”

After all, there are many things that Prasher can be happy and grateful about: his supportive wife, his children, his home-grown vegetables & finally a return to science.

Dear my readers, all careers are similar in the chance of success; they just vary in the steepness of the climb. My kind friend shared that the climbing field for being successful scientists started relatively easy for students who have done well academically / with exceptional scholastic ability, but become very very steep toward the higher place(s).

Final reflection:
Let the (use) value that we bring to ourselves and others through our work / pursuit / career / vocation shine itself.
Do not pursue recognition / award as a goal because it is beyond our control.
Even one of the most deserving Nobel Prize winner – Gandhi, never receive it.

Dear Dr Douglas Prasher, thank you very much! You are my Hero!

Related:
http://discovermagazine.com/2011/apr/30-how-bad-luck-networking-cost-prasher-nobel
http://galette86.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/the-inspiring-story-of-douglas-prasher/
http://www.bio.purdue.edu/lab/leung/blog/?tag=douglas-prasher

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China Innovators

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This post is based on the book Chinnovation. I also note down my ideas based on the things I read there.

INNOVATION.
Definition: doing the same things in a new way (process) or doing new things (creating a product / service) pxii.

After learning from the West, it is time for me to focus on learning from the East this year.
Wu Po Chi (HKUST) proposed that "the Chinese and the American culture are different.
The Anglo-Saxon thought, business, legal, medical system is based on the Greek system of linearity – very nice and clear separation of right and wrong. The Chinese are very holistic; little good and little bad.

… the functional MRI of a person thinking in Chinese, many more parts of the brain light up.
The Chinese language is more complicated in sound; it is graphical (so it is very good for descriptive purposes). It requires context.

The English language is not nearly so rich but it is precise."
Blueroselady learned (from an English man at the birth town of Shakespeare) that the English language is actually pretty rich by constantly adapting and adopting, as compared to e.g. the French language.

Perhaps, Blueroselady has to let her children learn some graphical languages, e.g. Chinese, Arabic.

What did you do when you hear the news of Michael Jackson’s death?

My office mate suddenly shouted something that I would not write here. No matter what, he is a nice chap who offered me a headset to prevent me from hearing his loud machine.
A China innovator rapidly secured the rights to build a Neverland Ranch in China.

These innovators capitalize on events happening in the world.

QUANTITY
counts.
Do you know that the Chinese Academy of Sciences alone produces ~ 100,000 PhDs / year?
Wuxi Pharma Tech.
Let’s go to visit / invest in Jiangsu.

No wonder that there are so many influx of PhDs from China to the West.

The best businessmen in China are not Shanghainese, but the businessmen of Wenzhou and Hangzhou.
It is neither because of the innate human talent of Wenzhou and Hangzhou is superior nor the probability of succeeding in Hangzhou and Wenzhou is higher.

It is because (1) everyone in Wenzhou and Hangzhou is trying to succeed as an entrepreneur, so the absolute numbers of attempts generate a lot of successes, (2) failure only leaves the option of trying again. Sorry, no comfortable white-collar job.

RELATIONSHIP & HUMILITY matter.
"good relationship with gov officials in China are much more important thin in other countries.
Building a good relationship with gov officials can reduce unnecessary trouble." (p55).

connectedness = renqin (p53).
"Prioritize RELATIONSHIPS over laws." (p56)
"Remember that people with bigger networks tend to do better."

Zou Bo of Senodia (MEMS-based chips producer) shared 2 avenues which he used to establish connections.

1. government.
The gov would introduce many resources.
2. investors.
Investors have many connections with other similar / related establishments. Zou Bo found the investors back in the US and brought them to China.

Old friends / classmates are existing channels (p243).

Lim Sah Soon (Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce) advised that in expanding to China, you should gain the good impression of being a modest and trustworthy race of people. Do not make the mistake of treating the Chinese as an inferior or backward race as this would cause the loss of trust, and definitely hurt relations for the future." (p184)

While the advice was meant for foreign players intending to expand into the China market, Blueroselady thinks that we should be modest and treat nobody as an inferior (regardless of race / social / economic background).

Perhaps the notion of inferior raised from the relatively poor quality of "Made in China" products in the past, but today many high quality products were also Made in China, such as my laptop.
Moreover, to many Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans), face matters a lot. Being treated as an inferior cause them to lose face.

RESTRICTIONS.
"Often the best movies were shot under budget constraints so severe that the director had to innovate – and the same principle apply for start-ups" (p15)
This phenomenon reminds me on Uncle RT who was poor in Berkeley yet produced excellent results.

The Chinese / The Zhejiang entrepreneurs are not easily deterred by the politic-economic conditions unfavorable to business formation. (p102).

Beijing is a cultural, political, economic & IT center because the Chinese gov is in control of significant resources. (p24)

5 Ms of Zhejiang entrepreneurs:
markets.
masses.
mobility.
management.
meshing / adapting best practices from other industries.

MARKETs / CUSTOMERs
Listen more to market (shichang), listen less to the governor (shizhang) which can be disguised in the form of generous grants / funding. (p102).

Markets believed by most people to be dead tend to have less competition hence lower cost of doing business. Be courageous to enter such markets (p103).

"Technology innovation should be market driven and not technology driven. We need to cater to consumers, just like why Cisco changed its logo" Zou Bo of Senodia (p245).

Management = innovation + operations (p104).

FOCUS & ELIMINATE distractions.
To focus, people choose to work in Hangzhou than Shanghai even though the typical wage is RMB3,000 vs RMB 6,000. (p104)
A big city like Shanghai has too many distractions!

Picking the right battle to fight is a form of focus.
Sun Tzu once said: "If you try to fight every battle, there is no hope of any victory."
Carefully select where to invest / expend resources (time and money).

How to out-innovate the MNC (multinationals)?
Do not fight the elephant head-on.
You will be crushed.
If you are the nimble mouse hat can find the crevices to exploit, your chances of winning are much higher (p265).

OPPORTUNITIES
problems = opportunities.
the larger the problem, the greater the opportunity. (p37).
"To the trained eyes, innovation opportunities appear frequently in daily life." (p56)

Start SMALL, think BIG.
"Every great fashion enterprise, every outstanding financial institution, every mammoth IT company, and every great invention began in the imagination of some one person." (p80).

GROWTH
A company’s growth is the same as a person’s.

Liu Jiren (Neusoft) explains: "You need something when you are young, then you need other things when you become older.
A company with ideals should have a long-term plan.
You should think about your mature phase when you are young.

But in the process of development, you can’t make every step develop as you expected from a microcosmic angle.

Now, when you look forward to to the company’s future, you will find what made you prosper in the past may become what holds you back in the future.


restructure …." (p252)

DIVERSITY
of experiences leads to critical thinking (p43).

PASSION / love.
Qiu Xuefan (Wenzhou entrepreneur), "Love what you do, because you will have to do a lot of it." (p179)

Blueroselady agrees. It is not only about doing what we love, but also loving what we do. It is bidirectional and must act in sync.

Zhang Gang, the founder of Little Fat Sheep mentioned that "I always wanted to have a basic business, selling something simple that people wanted. Many people grow a company like raising a pig. The pig gets fat; you kill it and make money. I grow my company like raising a son. The average life of a restaurant is less than three years in China. I want Little Sheep to last a century". (p202)

Wow! A brand that lasts a century sounds highly ambitious yet cool! This is what visionary leaders / entrepreneurs / innovators should aim for.
Blueroselady was grateful for enjoying a hot pot with Little Fat Sheep recipe (with friends from China), but thought that it was not for her. She felt very thirsty after the meal and decided NO more. Fortunately for Zhang Gang, not all customers are health conscious and bland preferring as Blueroselady.

DETERMINATION matters.
The 30th US President Calvin Coolidge famously remarked,
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.

Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." (p46)

PEOPLE / TALENT / human capital

According to Ray Zhang (eHi), people need to find meaning and significance in the things the company does. They need a common platform, an environment where personal careers and company growth are in sync, with no differences between the two (p259).

Vincent Tai (CEO of RDA Micro) repeatedly said, "The mind is a terrible thing to waste".
He trusts his employees even though they make mistakes.
He would sit down with an employee who had made a mistake, asking why it happened and what lessons the employee has learned. (p85).

A way to attract investors is by becoming a magnet talent e.g. Lee Kaifu or Li Kaifu (p110).
Lee / Li won a loyal following from Chinese students through his numerous coaching books, public speeches, blog posts, and most importantly (Blueroselady thinks) his accomplishment in high tech (Apple, Google, Innovation Works).

I am going to read Li’s old book "Be Your Personal Best" published in 1991, perhaps re-published in 2005.

Be doggedly persistent in attracting talent.
Treat talent as though they are family (p130).

Blueroselady notices that her best friend also treats her mentors as family, thank you!

A random quote that comes to my mind "千里马常有,而伯乐不常有".

Be CONTRARIAN.
If an opportunity is obvious to all, it probably has no profits. (p176).

Experiment with the uncommon for supernormal returns.
Judy Leissner (President, CEO of Grace Vineyard) shared her winning strategy, "Whatever old traditional Chinese wine producers do, we don’t." (p142)

Most old traditional China wine producers spend significantly on advertising and pay restaurants to serve wine, Grace Vineyard does not advertise.
Leissner opened up a wine bar to brand her wine. A wine bar allows 2-way communication.

Instead of restaurants, Grace Vineyard serves Grace Vineyard wine in the best hotels, leading airlines (e.g. Cathay Pacific’s 1st class and business class flights serve Deep Blue of Grace Vineyard).
Grace Vineyard also avoids area where dominant local wineries exist.

Blueroselady thinks that everything popular is not always right.

Some interesting COMPANIES / virtual PLACES with potential useful service to you & me:

Baidu
the leading Chinese-language internet search provider.
Baidu name refers to a line from a Song Dynasty poem, meaning "search for one’s dream". Blueroselady thinks that name matters. name = branding.
founder Robin Li, Eric Xu (a biochemist).

Wukong.com
Search engine that aims to be Baidu’s No. 1 competitor.
Nick Yang.

dianping.com
online crowdsourcing guide, paid search, e-coupons.

restaurant review site.
China version of Yelp.

www.5xue.com.
Lee Kaifu, PhD computer science CMU: machine learning, pattern recognition.

Ctrip.com
Co-founder Neil Shen.
NASDAQ-listed.

Tudou
Gary Wang.
Besides watching Youtube, I want to learn more from Tudou.

QQ
QQ has more active users than Facebook (p13).

Career Album
a social platform for individual careeer development and corporate talent hunting.

founder: Crystal (Yanjing) Yin (Stanford).
Blueroselady thinks that this is a place where you try to put everything together, a LinkedIn combined with deviantArt; but Career Album is still in beta version as of Jan 2013. Blueroselady will not use it for the time being.

Fields that Blueroselady are going to explore:
PROPERTY.
Segments of the Wenzhou population speculate in property to get rich. They buy entire plots of buildings. Speculate based on careful planning (p101).

BIG DATA.
"The realm of technology is constantly striving to encapsulate larger and larger volumes of data in smaller devices" (p255)
To win customers, offer quality, convenience, portability.

Places that Blueroselady wants to visit / TRAVEL to:
Bama, Guangxi. Why? 1 of every 3,400 people is a centenarian. Perhaps, I will arrange visiting both Guilin and Bama in a single trip.

Pingyao, Shanxi. Why? The small town of Pingyao, in Shanxi province flourished as the financial hub of China for 300 years, in spite of poor soil and accessibility.

It was home to 22 banks, collectively controlling more than 50% of the nation’s wealth.
The secret of its success? innovation. Pingyao people ventured out to places such as Mongolia and Russia to trade.
The reason of its subsequent failure? complacency.

Always remember that innovation and reinvention is a continual process.

$: Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology : Global Research Outreach Program

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The SAIT Global Research Outreach (GRO) Program is SAIT’s annual call for proposal, open to world’s leading universities. With this call, SAIT invites your novel research ideas in SAIT’s research fields. Your ideas will be reviewed and selected by annually appointed SAIT technology board members for its novelty and alignment with SAIT’s research direction.

Selected proposals will be financially supported for one year, contract based, in a range of US $50,000 to US $100,000, including any overhead. Based on research outcomes and internal request for research continuance the contract may be renewed up to three years. Joint research proposals will be also accepted.

Most of all, we expect the SAIT GRO to be a platform that universities and SAIT build mutually prosperous relationships on research collaboration. Your questions or comments are gladly welcome. We look forward to your participation.

To learn more about this year’s SAIT GRO program and 2010 GRO result you may find out more information from 2011 GRO and 2010 GRO links.

Written by blueroselady

June 21, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Posted in funding

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NYC Business Plan Competition for International Students

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The Competition provides students and recent alumni of non-U.S. schools the unique opportunity to access substantial funding and support to implement their business ideas in New York City. In addition to funding prospects, the contestants will gain valuable experience interacting with leaders from top venture capitalist firms and businesses in New York City, as well as the opportunities to tour the City and learn about its robust business and entrepreneurship community.

We are inviting teams of 2-5 participants to submit business plans for ideas that may be commercially viable in New York City. Six teams of finalists (three from the undergraduate track and three from the graduate track) will win a six-day, all-expenses-paid trip to New York City in April 2011 to participate in the final round of the Competition, which will be hosted at Columbia University.

More information on the Competition can be found on at the NYCEDC website
(www.nycedc.com/nextidea).

Written by blueroselady

July 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm