Stanford Researcher Appointed Honorary Doctor at Aalborg University

We are happy to announce that our good friend Renate Fruchter, Director of the Problem Based Learning Lab at Stanford University has been appointed Honorary Doctor at Aalborg University. This nomination is a consolidation of a long and successful collaboration between Renate’s Center and Danish universities.

Danish Participation in Global Teamwork Project
Right now three Danish students from Aalborg University and The Technical University of Denmark are participating in this year’s Global Teamwork Project, an interdisciplinary building project between the fields of architecture, engineering and building, orchestrated by Renate’s lab at Stanford. The project gathers students from all over the world to collaborate in interdisciplinary teams and across up to 10 timezones on solving current building problems for real clients. So far the reactions from the Danish students have been very positive; in particular they highlighted the value of using new web-based technologies in the teamwork and the smooth integration of business aspects in the process.

Close Collaboration
The Stanford Problem Based Learning Lab was founded by Renate Fruchter in 1993 and supports collaborative, cross-disciplinary, geographically distributed teamwork and learning.

Within the field of problem based learning Denmark plays an important role as well. Aalborg University has 35 years’ experiences in educating students through the use of problem based learning strategies and the collaboration between the two centers goes way back; a funny fact is that the first study trip of  the PBL lab at Stanford University was an inspirational visit to Aalborg University.

Almost 20 years have passed but once again Renate Fruchter will visit Aalborg University. This time is for the official appointment of her honorary professorate on April 7th. The goal is that this nomination will lead to even more exciting research projects between Denmark and California. The new partners have ambitious goals and they already managed to secure funding from our home institution DASTI to collaborate on a project on teaching problem based learning to a social media generation. This project is kicked off in May at Stanford.

Better Place is ready to sell electrical vehicles in Denmark

Back in 2009 after working closely with Invest in Denmark, Better Place decided that Denmark was the best country to test their EV infrastructure system in. After a few years of scaling up the infrastructure Better Place is now ready to take orders from the Danish consumers.

Going through a turbulent period with change in management Better Place reached a milestone this week opening its first Better Place Center in Europe in Copenhagen.

“Today marks an important step forward for Better Place in our preparations to commercially launch our full solution in Denmark later this year,” said Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO, Better Place. “With our partners Renault and DONG Energy, we are delivering on our promise to offer a more sustainable, convenient and affordable mobility solution that will help drivers avoid the pump at a time when petrol prices are at an all-time high. It’s an exciting time for Better Place in Denmark with our new center, our new CEO, Johnny Hansen, our first ever price and package, the first batch of Renault Fluence Z.E. cars, and our new development agreement with Renault.”

The new CEO, Johnny Hansen, came from Arriva, the largest private transportation company in Scandinavia where he had been CEO for more than ten years.

From now on Danes can preorder the Renault EVs, which will be seen in the streets of Copenhagen in the fall of 2011.  Prices for the Renault EV start at DKK 205.000 without a switchable battery plan. Better Place is planning to operate with five different plans for its switchable battery infrastructure resembling what people are familiar with from cell phone plans. The price is rising as you drive more and start at 1495 DKK/month and goes to 2995 DKK/month for an “all you can drive” plan.

Better Place is one of many successes of IDK now employing more than 72 in Denmark and continously hiring new people as the EV infrastructure develops.

In Silicon Valley we’re all Gold Diggers
Silicon gold rush 2.0: The next wave of high-tech IPOs

Monday nights at Stanford University europhiles come together to listen to the most inspiring entrepreneurs from the old world. In late January Juha Christensen a Dane and Vassilis Nikolopoulos from Greece let the crowd walk away with some Silicon Valley principles to follow for those hoping to be part of the next gold rush.

A general agreement between our two tale telling European entrepreneurs is that the VC industry in Europe needs to put much more focus on choosing winners. As Juha Christensen puts it “In Denmark the peanut butter is spread evenly on the bread – really it is about putting it on in chunks”. For the gold digger the lesson is to dig for the biggest nugget one can imagine.

In Silicon Valley the appetite for risk is essential for the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The fact that failure is not a career killer as it is in many European countries is one of the reasons why people dare to take on much more risk. “The first question investors asked me when I arrived in the valley was: How many times did you fail? And not how many times I succeeded,” says Vassillis Nikolopoulos. The lesson for the gold digger is that you probably will not find that nugget you’re looking for on day one. In order to sort gold from stone you need to have mistaken the two before. So keep on digging.

As in the 1849 gold rush the supply has created the demand. 1/3rd  of the world’s venture capital is found in Silicon Valley. And the availability of capital is one of the reasons why Silicon Valley continues to be such a good place to be an entrepreneur. So as during the California Gold Rush people still go where they believe they can cash the big prize and the hopeful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley today are not much different from the gold diggers of 1849.

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