Innovation should be less about social media apps, more about necessity – Crunchbase News

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Through Jason williamson

It’s not about hating apps like Club house – they have earned their wages – but innovation must come from real needs. Think about sustainability, food security, life extension and promoting diversity. This idea has been going through my head for some time now, especially during the pandemic, but Steve Case last piece in the Wall Street Journal highlighted my passion.

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Case has been supporting American entrepreneurs outside of traditional tech hotspots since launching its “Rise of the Rest” tour and fund in 2014. The main point: Innovation happens everywhere, and we need to support it. This has been our philosophy at Oracle for startups since its launch in 2017, so I really agree with his thinking. Not just for America, but around the world.

In his article, Case explains how the pandemic has seen entrepreneurs move away from Silicon Valley, Boston and New York to places like Denver, Minneapolis and Austin. He explains, “The country’s tech workers are unlikely to be working on the same types of projects that dominated their time when they were set up in their hubs. Entrepreneurs who previously worked in tech bubbles – places that have produced far too many photo-sharing apps – will suddenly be exposed to a wider range of real-world challenges than they likely never would have faced without the pandemic. . “

Place on. Necessity is the mother of invention.

While mainstream applications receive a lot of media attention, many amazing innovators have quietly developed solutions to meet great global needs. Elon Musk understands, saying during a podcast that fewer people should start careers in finance and law and focus on innovation instead.

Hopefully the trend away from tech bubbles will produce more entrepreneurs like Nils Helset. As a 15th generation farmer, Nils saw first-hand the need for technology that could help farmers increase crop yields, reduce costs, and do everything in a more sustainable way. So he founded DigiFarm, which develops deep neural network models to automatically detect field boundaries using super-resolved satellite images. With this field analysis technology, farmers can make data-driven decisions for precision farming.

Or consider the founders of Aindra Systems, who saw the high death rate from cervical cancer in their home country, India, and decided to apply their entrepreneurial skills to solve it. Aindra Systems has developed AI-based computational pathology tools to read imaging tests right after they have been taken, allowing screenings and treatments to be performed from anywhere. Thousands of women have been screened since clinics rolled out the platform, with thousands more to come as the startup works to reduce death rates.

One suggestion in Case’s article that I’ll come back to a bit is that a move to Central America – away from the coast – is what opens the eyes of entrepreneurs to the necessities of the real world.

The beach was an important part of Rob Ianelli’s childhood, especially Norton Point on Martha’s Vineyard. And the beach is still an important part of his life now that he lives in Santa Monica, California.

It was spending much of his life on the coast that inspired Ianelli to found Oceanworks, a startup that intends to ban plastic from the ocean. The online marketplace for recycled plastic materials and products has more than 100 customers and a capacity to supply more than 190,000 tonnes of ocean plastic per year from collection sites on six continents. Oceanworks operates a track and trace application to certify that the plastic that manufacturers buy is truly recycled ocean plastic so their customer base, which includes Fortune 500 companies, can prove their green credentials.

And just to stay a little longer on the west coast, Front lines of justice reinvents education through the prism of cinema, technology and high fidelity storytelling. Think Netflix meets MasterClass. This startup was founded by a group of justice-focused entrepreneurs who are also influential filmmakers and storytellers. They saw the need for a new kind of online learning platform that could help tackle racial and social justice challenges head on.

Jason Williamson of Oracle for startups and Oracle for research.

I’m fortunate to have a front-row seat to the work these entrepreneurs do through their participation in Oracle for Startups and Oracle for Research.1 And I’m happy to see innovation happening by so many other startups in important sectors of the economy, powered by revolutionary new technologies such as AI, cloud, blockchain and advanced analytics.

The advent of smart cities is a particularly exciting area of ​​progress. Startups are developing technology that makes urban centers cleaner, safer, more sustainable and less vulnerable to natural disasters. The wave of innovators moving away from tech hubs see the unique issues facing different metropolitan areas, and they gain a first-hand understanding of what it takes to create solutions, which often involves working closely with and close to, local governments.

But these companies will all face challenges: around 90% of startups fail.

According to CBInsights, 42% of these failures are due to a misinterpretation of market demand. But the second cause of failure, attributable to 29% of cases, is lack of funding, which is often just personal money.

This tells me that many of these companies could have been successful and doing so much good for the world if they had only had more financial support during those difficult early stages that all startups go through. As the pandemic shifts the attention of entrepreneurs to solving challenges bigger than sharing photos, established tech companies should look to help them achieve long-term profitability and success.


Jason williamson is the global director and vice president of Oracle for startups and Oracle for research.

Drawing: Dom guzman

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