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With final presentations just around the corner, the students of Professor Darwin’s Building Smart Cities, Leveraging Open Innovation course (UGBA 193i) were graced with the insights of executives from Norway, a country which boasts 9 Smart Cities. The executives hailed from BI Norwegian Business School, one of Europe’s largest business schools, as well as being the “main supplier of financial and administrative expertise in Norway.” The 40+ executives represented enterprises ranging from software logistics to healthcare. Executives were paired up with each student team to provide a week’ worth of insight on disruptive business models through a Norwegian lens.

“Disruptive innovation is something that needs to happen otherwise we won’t survive!”

– BI Executives at Berkeley Haas

After the students delivered their old and new business models, the executives leveraged their experiences to provide students with feedback. Executives highlighted San Jose’s family friendly environment. However, younger adults who serve as talent for companies, aren’t as impressed by this incentive. The advising group recommended Team San Jose to not ask what people want, but rather ask what young women want. “The boys will follow the women,” one executive said. The group also added a need for higher security and a deeper look into real estate politics to provide affordable housing. Executives paired with Team San Francisco pushed the students for more disruptive suggestions. The group recommended looking to European cities with real timetables to help congestion, crowdsourcing information for public safety, and penalizing water consumption while increasing its cost for water shortages- suggestions to challenge San Francisco’s citizens.

“Don’t invent it; just implement it.”

– BI Executives at Berkeley Haas

Team Oakland’s recommendation focused on reforming local education policies to include cooking healthy food at home. In turn, this creates valuable propositions in new businesses, ranging from urban farming to health initiatives. Executives paired with Team Berkeley recommended attacking their problems from different angles, including a congestion fee during peak traffic hours, which in turn could release funds to build greener technology. In doing so, collaboration between academia, government, and private enterprise is necessary.

The four student teams and their respective executive groups were abuzz in dialogue surrounding Smart Cities in the Bay Area. Student teams will leverage Open Innovation feedback from the Norwegian executives, with the hopes of adding value to their ongoing research.

By Jon Caña