Business Guide CNYWinter.com

Wednesday May 3, 2006

TECH 2006 Meets in Liverpool

Convention recommends thoughtful investment in cutting edge technologies
By Chris Motola

Technology is racing forward at a breakneck speed, but entrepreneurs and venture capitalists would do well to choose their projects carefully.

Early nanotech products are already on the market and Web-based commerce is beginning to recover to highest levels of activity since the Dot.com bubble burst, but cautious investment in technological breakthroughs was a running theme at the annual TECH 2006 convention in Liverpool co-sponsored by TDO and the Case Center.

The convention gives attendees from throughout the Central New York region the chance to learn about the technological and systemic trends that could end up shaping their businesses far into the future. The day-long event features morning and afternoon keynote speakers as well as two lecture ?tracks? divided into ?technology? and manufacturing.

Typically, the technology track deals with computers and communications while the manufacturing track deals with processes and systems pertinent to the industry such as Six Sigma and lean manufacturing.

Following up on a major theme?nanotechnology--from 2004, the morning keynote address was given by Keith Blakely, CEO of Nanodynamics, Inc. Nanotechnology is a buzzword for devices and products that manipulate matter on such a minute scale that its very characteristics can be altered.

Blakely's company has several products on the market, including a 10 pound fuel cell battery designed for military use and a hollow core golf ball that allows for more accurate drives. Neither design would be possible without nanomaterials.

?You are going to see nanotechnology change the way you live,? said Blakely before cautioning, ?it's not hype, but that doesn't mean there is value in every nanotech company.?

Many emerging technology companies have numerous patents and no shortage of investment capital, but have yet to turn a profit, Blakely warned. A ?build it and they will come? mentality is a recipe for investment disaster.

Following up in the afternoon was assistant professor and Chair of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Jeffrey Stamp. Breaking the TECH mold from previous years, Stamp presented a workshop that ran the entire afternoon portion of the convention.

Stamp contended that many people in the business world throw so many buzzwords around that they don't clearly comprehend their meanings.

?Entrepreneurship,? said Stamp, ?is simply the essence of advantage and a matter of how you find it,? of making small decisions that have a major outcome. He too stressed the important of selling something rather than speculating on it.

?You cannot create value until you sell something,? he said.

Stamp also argued that a sense of context and consequences were vital. Entrepreneurs need to see the entire picture and understand how short term decisions create long term results. He agreed that this meant ?thinking outside of the box.? However, he noted, ?People say that, but there's no idea what the box actually is. The box is simply your current perception of reality.?

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