Catalyst Conversation: Open Source Learning and Education04 Jan


Open Source Learning and Education

GCG focuses on innovation in education, a more theoretical discussion of Long Tail theory with a practical discussion of text book publishing. GCG also hones the conversation on the open source model’s applicability to education, varying approaches to education, relevant technology, and what the future holds for the education system. GCG analyzes the key success factors, risks, and the how the technology can take off: does the inception need to come before there is a major push for open source or if a push for open source will inspire new technology and the necessary financing?

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Economy, World

Catalyst Conversation: Microfinance in the Developing World29 Dec


Muhammad Yunus helped pioneer the concept of microcredit with the formation of Grameen Bank – meaning “village bank” – in Bangladesh in 1983. The bank is based on the principle of that loaning what would be considered tiny amounts of capital to entreprenuers – the first loan was $27 to a total of 42 craftpersons – could not only lift people out of poverty but also serve as a sound investment practice. Today, Grameen Bank has 8 million borrowers, a 99% loan repayment rate and loaned $7b billion since its formation.

During this roundtable discussion, GCG seeks to learn what the future hold for the broader state of microfinance, opportunities and challenges, and debates how well has the concept of microfinance been successfully exported from Grameen Bank & Bangladesh. GCG also discussed if the model may work in some societies/developing countries better than others. The conversation also included internet institutions such Kiva and Prosper allowed for greater adoption and/or efficiencies of micro-finance.

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Catalyst Conversation: Pricing of CO228 Dec


GCG examines three salient strategies for the pricing of CO2 emissions: regulation, taxation and cap and trade. Each of these strategies faces a unique set of challenges and advantages that make it unclear which strategy is the most viable. Our goal this week is to weigh these opposing strategies against one another and identify which, if any, provides the best architecture for addressing global climate change.

For each strategy, GCG examined key advantages and challenges and considered expanded government, transparency, market distortion, inefficiencies, cost to various stakeholders, political feasibility, necessity of international cooperation, environmental impact, and legal implications. GCG also debated strategies that may have the best chance of success and best calibrate the regulation scheme.

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Continuing the Conversation: Where Do Clusters Come From?23 Dec


Where Do Clusters Come From?

Economic clustering, or the theory that industries or segments of industries agglomerate around certain locations, is as novel an idea as it is ambiguous. In particular, the empirical evidence supporting clustering lacks in universal applicability, as scholars and businessmen attempt to explain the genesis of many regions in parochial terms incapable of replication–such as the birth of Hollywood or Wall Street. But is clustering, and in general economic development, more than just the random, unpredictable rise and fall of cities and communities? Or does a complete theory of clustering involve common variables that may be targeted across regions, regardless of economic status or other constraints?

Brett Staron leads GCG in an exploration of where clusters come from in this Catalyst Conversation.

The roundtable discussion identified what has been the traditional role of government in economic development and how does this paradigm shift with the clustering approach and where did Wall Street, Hollywood, or Silicon Valley come from. GCG also discussed if clusters more amenable to new industry versus existing industry.

Other guiding questions included:

  • What have been some of the common academic or educational variables leading to clusters around the world?
  • Why do smart people move to “smart” cities?
  • What would a workable model of economic development achieved through clustering driven external preconditions (land, location, climate, etc) look like?
  • What is the role of entrepreneurs in catalyzing clustering?

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Catalyst Conversation: A Process for Innovation22 Dec


A Process for Innovation

Ryan Coleman and Donald Ball lead GCG through a roundtable discussion on strategies and tactics to be innovative. The creative process was discussed and how ingenuity can be used to solve problems big and small. The conversation also elaborated how individual and companies use incentives to drive innovation (and at what cost), creating safezones and the impact of the environment on ideation.

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Catalyst Conversation: Medical Tourism Strategic Options for US Healthcare21 Dec


Medical Tourism Strategic Options for US Healthcare

In 2008, more than 400,000 non-U.S. residents sought care in the United States, known as inbound medical tourism, and spent almost $5 billion for health services.

“More than 750,000 Americans (with enough cash to pay for the cost of their care and the travel expense) left the country last year for less expensive medical treatments, a number projected to grow to six million by 2010, potentially costing our U.S. health care system billions.”

Trends are showing that Americans primarily seek this sort of care for elective surgical procedures. As healthcare cost rise, the opportunities that exist are going to expand to all parts of healthcare and healthcare procedures.

During this roundtable, GCG discusses opportunities and threats that exist within the Medical Tourism Industry and debates a “Global Healthcare System” or “Global Medical Center”.

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Catalyst Conversation: Why Healthcare Reform?18 Dec


Healthcare Reform?

“Americans will spend a staggering $2.5 trillion on health care in 2009, says the Congressional Budget Office. As a share of national income that is far more than other rich countries spend, despite America’s slightly younger population. To say that Americans do not get value for money is putting it mildly. They live no longer than Europeans and die younger than the Japanese. Meanwhile, 46m of them lack health insurance.

There are many reasons why American health care costs so much. Americans love fancy new medical technology. New drugs, for example, are prescribed a year or two earlier in America than in Europe, and do not come cheap. American doctors pay a fortune to insure themselves against frivolous lawsuits. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that even in cases where no medical error was found, plaintiffs received payments a quarter of the time. And half of medical malpractice payments were gobbled up by lawyers and overheads.

But the central problem is that most Americans get their health insurance through their employers. This dates back to the era of post-war wage controls, when firms offered benefits instead of pay rises. Today’s tax code sets it in stone. Employers can buy health insurance with pre-tax dollars. Individuals cannot.”
-The Economist

GCG discusses a baseline understanding of the healthcare industry issues and the key drivers of reform and to what extent reform is necessary.

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Catalyst Conversation: Technology in Financial Markets17 Dec


Catalyst Conversation: Technology in Financial Markets

The integration of technology into global financial markets has had far reaching implications on all market participants. From the largest institutions to the smallest mom n’ pop “odd-lot” retail investors, every market participant absorbs the hidden costs and benefits derived from market evolution. During this Catalyst Conversation, Stephen McMullin and Srujan Linga lead members through a critical analysis of the the most topical threads in global financial market structure.

The roundtable included discussions around:

  • High Frequency Trading and its Net Impact
  • Market Efficiency and BC&E (Broker/Clearing/Exchange) costs
  • HF Trading as a potential source for systematic risk?
  • Increased competition in the “Exchange Landscape” (i.e. the proliferation of new Alternative Trading Networks, Electronic Communication Networks’, and Exchanges)

The Global Catalyst Group also examined which markets, regions, and asset classes are next, if HF trading helps or hinders market participants, and if market structure held up under the stress of 2008’s market crash.

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Catalyst Conversation: Should China Innovate?17 Dec


Should China Innovate?

Innovation frequently addresses actors for whom innovation is presumptively within reach. How can this business, or that individual, convert to a more innovative outlook and model?

Andrew Verstein and Leah Belsky lead GCG members through a discussion around adding innovation where innovation is supposedly lacking: the rapidly developing Developing World. The conversation focused to answer “how can an economy like China’s become innovative, and should it?”

China is a large and diverse country, which can try many strategies. It is thus an ideal laboratory to consider the various theories we have, or could have, proposed. Moreover, applying these methods to a putatively non-innovative market lets us look for information we may have missed in contemplating solutions for our own country our business.

The roundtable discussion included:

  • The Wages of Innovation and measuring innovation through patent ownership and that China is not an innovation leader. China is losing out on tremendous value by its failure to innovate.
  • In 2006, China outlined its 11th five-year plan. Central to the agenda: innovation. Are there any downsides to such a focus?
  • Does China need to improve protection of IP? After all, many foreign firms seem to resist technology transfers out of fear that their IP will not be preserved. Are these technology transfers important to innovation?
  • Is a wild IP market leading to a very Chinese variety of innovation?
  • The Chinese wish to support entrepreneurship, but can they mimic other models?
  • Obstacles of Innovation.
  • Are culture and incentives matched for innovation?
  • Can innovation thrive when dialog is stifled?

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Article: The Creative Destruction of Intelligence17 Dec


The Creative Destruction of Intelligence: How Television, Mobile, and Internet Technology are Destroying the Discerning Mind

By Brett Staron

With the advent of mobile and internet technology, modern man now commands an unprecedented insight into and control over information. Not only can the average human being create or access the type of information he or she is looking for in an efficient and rapid manor, but the sheer size of accessible information has grown exponentially in the little time spanning from the early 1990s to present day. A veritable tsunami of good information and poor information alike now inundates all channels of communication, ranging from newer technologies such as the internet to revamped technologies such as television and radio broadcasting. These technologies and the information they broker have often created as much demand as they have met existing demand.

The way in which we access information reflects the quality of that information itself: attention grabbing headlines with little or no content fit well into the paradigm of Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia whereas accessing quality information requires a more patient user. However, it is important to separate these two concepts, the information versus the tool, as the two aren’t inextricably linked. Good information can be just as readily accessed in today’s society as poor information, and tools such as Twitter broker both. In a library, you will also find good and poor information – depending on the author you’re reading. The difference lies in the relative affinity bad information has with today’s tools versus the lack of affinity good information has with these same tools.

The following argument therefore rests on the assumption that informational technology catering to short attention spans has a much higher probability of carrying poor or shoddy information than those catering to patient and discerning attention spans. This is because of 1) the lack of discerning gates or checkpoints on that information and 2) the fact that much of this information can be created without a market mechanism guiding it. The argument also rests on the second premise that technologies do not follow a developmental trajectory (i.e. the “best” technology rises to the top), and instead follow a path of “creative destruction”. As a result, the argument proposes that mediums dominating today’s society, by virtue of their enormous following – particularly among younger generations – carry an imminent risk of turning users away from some of the better information and the technology disseminating it to the detriment of society as a whole…

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Our Mantra

The Global Catalyst Group seeks to gather persons of unique potential into a community dedicated to thought leadership, shared resources, and mutual improvement. Through deliberate collaboration, collective mentorship and continuous dialogue we believe that we can support and stretch one another with meaningful insight and thoughtful guidance. We encourage our membership and partners to exercise, together, their ambition, creativity, and both their professional and social networks to pursue a greater purpose than oneself. We challenge them to leave a legacy and we support one another towards this end.

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