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Special thanks to our guest judges:

Stuart Drown, Chief Innovation Officer for the State of California, Mayor Tom Bates, City of Berkeley, Honorable Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok, Consul General of India, PK Agarwal, Immediate past CTO of California & CEO of TiE Global, Claudio Querol, Director, Technology Services, Cisco, Jim Spohrer, Director of IBM University Programs and Cognitive Institute, Param Singh, Chief Smart Cities Consultant for the City of San Francisco, Amit Varma, VP of Corporate Strategy & New Business, HCL Technologies, Kilton Hopkins, Chief Technology Officer, Department of Technology for the City of San Francisco, Michelle Thong, Business Development Officer, City of San Jose, Khanh Duy Russo, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation, City of San Jose, Amar Subash, Country Manager for India, Bangalore, Tyco, Steve Myers, Chief Technology Officer, United Health, Optum, Ritesh Patel, Business Development Director, Mindteck, Maria Carkovic, Executive Director, Institute of Business Innovation, Dean Richard Lyons, Haas School of Business


Building Smart Cities, Leveraging Open Innovation, the course organized and taught by Professor Darwin concluded with an enthusiastic applause from the judges who presided over the students’ final presentations. The wholesome knowledge gained the students from traveling over 8,000 miles to India and engaging with experts across the two nations was wonderfully displayed as Bay Area city leaders and executives judged the final presentations. During their midterm presentations, student teams collaborated with experts across different Indian cities, leveraging Open Innovation, to develop new and better business models towards Smart City development in India; judges praised the ideas offered based on their in-depth research. The final presentations which offered a smart city business model to each of the four bay area cities (San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Jose) were also brilliantly displayed.

“Innovation…that is what sustains us, that is what advances society, that is what we are trying to do, is help shape people and organizations doing that.“ – Dean Lyons, Haas School of Business

Special guest Dean Richard Lyons of Haas School of Business, initiated the event with an inspiring speech on the importance of innovation and cultivating future leaders:

Innovation is a word that I use all the time. When you look at enterprises: What makes them fit? What allows them to survive? What allows them to sustain? If you think about the for-profit sector, firms do not get paid to be the same; they get paid for being usefully different. If you reframe the term competitive advantage and you frame it as what makes an organization or a city or a nonprofit better at producing useful difference, that is the essential competitive question that organizations are confronting. For us, we are the human capital business, training graduates and undergraduates. Innovation…that is what sustains us, that is what advances society, that is what we are trying to do, is help shape people and organizations doing that.“

Four Bay Area Cities Get Smart

Assigned to one of four local cities (Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose), the four student teams extensively worked alongside city planners, mayors, technology officers, innovation officers, and other various Smart City experts to identify current city issues to develop innovative solutions.

First up, Team Berkeley kickstarted their presentation by announcing three vital problem areas in Berkeley: limited infrastructure, lack of public safety, and inefficient transportation. As their solution, Team Berkeley implemented an open-source data program, Berkeley Open 311, to initiate their disruptive business model. A Better Berkeley leverages Open Innovation through various initiatives such as an open e-Governance platform that encourages firm and citizen participation to accelerate city improvement projects.

Team Oakland faced similar but different challenges: high crime rate, civic disunity, and food insecurity. In their SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis, the team developed three innovative solutions to their three respective challenges: 1) Comprehensive Prevention Software (predicting frequency of crime in a particular location) 2) Crowdgauge (addressing discriminatory platforms by gauging priorities and preferences of crowds) 3) Community Gardens with Drip Irrigation (improving availability and efficiency of growing fresh produce) ). Mayor Libby Schaaf backs her team and city: “Oakland is the best of what an American city can be. It’s diverse. It’s got architectural beauty. It’s got natural beauty. It’s got arts and gritty industry and a blue-collar aesthetic and incredible potential and opportunity for social movements, for entrepreneurs. It is America’s most exciting city.”

 For their project, Team San Francisco targeted issues of safety, space, infrastructure, cost, and environment. Their solution? POD (Pilot On Demand) – smart cars, smart routes, smart pricing. POD is a self-driving car system that will reduce costs of transportation, improve road safety, increase space efficiency, improve infrastructure, and reduce the amount of idle cars on the road. Team SF utilizes Open Innovation with the idea of technology companies contracting with both car manufacturers and government, utilizing data for commuting efficiency and effective policy change.

Lastly, we had Team San Jose, the most educated city in California, boasting a population of nearly 1 million. Team San Jose focused on three key issues: an aging working population, talent drain, and low visibility; overall, these issues lead to a slow-growing economy for the city. Team San Jose actively addressed these issues with their innovative business model that would capture value through re-branding; by marketing a greater accessible city with smart corporate housing, smart transportation, and smart business governance, the city would attract new businesses and young professionals.

 Overall, the students carried out first-rate presentations that left judges intrigued about the future of our cities getting smart with Open Innovation. Professor Darwin proudly shared his key takeaway: “All the deans to all the corporate executives said that students did an immensely high-quality job. This shows us that we are being relevant to industries, relevant to businesses.”

Congratulations UGBA 193i students on your final presentations and for a wonderful semester!


By: Cindy Ma