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ACC President and CEO Richard Rhodes now serves on the League for Innovation in the Community College.

A lab with more than 600 computers at the Highland campus impressed officials of the league.

For community colleges, few honors match getting a seat on the board of the League for Innovation in the Community College.

The prestigious association, founded in 1968, limits its board of directors to 20 members. A college can’t apply for a seat; rather, it must be nominated when a vacancy occurs. Then it must submit a detailed “self-study” to make its case, host a site visit by league officials and be approved by a vote of the board.

And so it went for Austin Community College, which learned last month that Richard Rhodes, its president and CEO, had won a seat on the league’s board on the strength of his leadership, ACC’s Board of Trustees, the faculty and various innovations, including the conversion of the rundown Highland Mall into a campus featuring, among other things, a lab with more than 600 computers where students learn at their own pace.

“It puts ACC in that group of significant leading community colleges helping to chart the course for new innovations, particularly in today’s age of (emphasizing) student success,” said Mark Milliron, a former CEO of the league who co-founded Austin-based Civitas Learning Inc., which works with ACC and many other colleges to reduce the time and cost of earning a degree. “It’s a great honor for Austin to be recognized by this group. It’s also a great network to be a part of. You have your finger on some of most innovative practices around the country and even around the world.”

Board membership will allow ACC to tap into various grants that the League for Innovation receives. In the run-up to board membership, the league cut ACC in on a $2.9 million grant from the Walmart Foundation. The college received $300,000 to offer classes for a retail management certificate that will help workers rise into supervisory roles.

Membership on the league’s board also acknowledges Rhodes’ national stature, said Evelyn Waiwaiole, executive director of the Center for Community College Student Engagement at the University of Texas. “Richard is considered to be one of the great community college leaders,” she said, citing his work at ACC and previously at El Paso Community College. “He is extremely well respected.”

Rhodes said ACC officials acknowledged to league representatives during the review process that much needs to be done to increase graduation rates, boost transfers to four-year universities and otherwise raise measures of student success.

“You have to talk about your warts to talk about the innovations to overcome those warts,” Rhodes said. For example, the three-year-graduation rate for ACC students who enrolled full-time in 2012 was 3.8 percent, well below the statewide average of 15.4 percent, according to Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board data. ACC officials say the school historically focused on getting students in the door, as opposed to their academic progress after enrolling.

That is changing. The college has grouped 180 degree and certificate programs into 10 “guided pathways,” such as business, health sciences and liberal arts, to make it easier for students to complete required courses and stay on track. Advising and other support services are being beefed up. Course completion rates are on the rise.

League officials were impressed not only by such efforts but also by ACC’s collaboration with high schools, its workforce development programs and its deep engagement with the community, said Rufus Glasper, president and CEO of the nonprofit organization, which is based in Chandler, Ariz.

Glasper said he was unaware of any other college in the country with a computer lab akin to the ACCelerator, as the lab at the Highland campus is called. The lab’s size creates an environment where students who need help don’t feel that they are being singled out, he said. Students who take developmental, or remedial, math in the lab have much higher passing rates than their counterparts in traditional classrooms.

League officials were also taken with ACC’s partnership with the business community to bring a bioscience lab, incubator space, apartments, shops and offices to the Highland site. “It’s a good example of building an ecosystem that allows a community college to serve as a base for revitalizing the community,” Glasper said.

 

Astute management of intellectual property never more critical

There has never been a more active time in terms of intellectual property including new ideas, concepts, equipment, technologies and drugs being developed and commercialised.

What with the Internet of Things (IOT), big data, increased use of smart phones, Blockchain money transfer, power saving devices and myriad cloud-based products and apps, it is no wonder that the word disruptive pervades nearly every sector of the market.

There was even evidence this week that the normally slow-moving manufacturing sector has been flipped on its head with the emergence of electric car group, Tesla overtaking Ford Motor Company based on stock market value.

With a market capitalisation approaching $50 billion, it has only taken Tesla 15 years to overtake Ford, a US auto icon with a 100 year history.

Here is a list of 10 companies at the cutting edge of their industries, which highlights the broad cross-section of sectors that are now affected by the emergence of new technologies.

The following companies are in the early stages of life and growth and therefore investors should seek professional financial advice before considering these stocks for their portfolio.

Pointerra (ASX: 3DP) is setting the benchmark in terms of managing, visualising and sharing 3D imaging data, a concept which is has multi-industry applications from knee reconstructions to aerospace design.

 

Activistic (ASX: ACU) has a range of apps and technologies which seamlessly connects and engages the world’s 2 billion smartphone consumers with charities and causes through its proprietary micro-donation technology.

 

Collaborate Corporation (ASX: CL8) has made strong inroads into the collaborative consumption industry with its DriveMyCar product leading the way.

 

Creso Pharma (ASX: CPH) is a company that has run on the back of increasing interest in the medical cannabis industry. This has not only been driven by increasing endorsement of medical cannabis products by industry bodies, but it is also benefiting from regulatory changes which now allow the use of medical cannabis.

Connexion Media (ASX: CXZ) specialises in developing and commercialising smart car software apps and services for internet-connected vehicles and mobile devices.

 

miRoamer is a next generation internet radio product that allows users to pick up radio stations from broad geographies, including international stations. miRoamer has become the world leader in internet radio technology, delivering a superior understanding of the technical, content and marketing demands.

DigitalX (ASX: DCC ) is a Blockchain-enhanced software solutions group disrupting the payments industry. The Company’s flagship product, AirPocket allows consumers to make secure and cost-effective money transfers worldwide. Companies can use DigitalX’s AirID technology to leverage the benefits of the Blockchain.

AirPocket is the first Blockchain-enhanced mobile payments application available in the world, effectively allowing US AirPocket users the ability to make low cost international money transfers across 14 countries in Latin America.

 

Imugene (ASX: IMU) is a clinical stage immuno-oncology company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. Its lead product is HER-Vaxx, a B Cell peptide vaccine for the treatment of gastric cancer. The company is also developing mimotope-based immunotherapies against validated and new oncology targets.

K2fly (ASX: K2F) is an enterprise asset management technology group specialising in the provision of infrastructure asset management to asset intensive industries via a software technology platform and consulting service.

Quantify Technology Holdings (ASX: QFY) is a unique and disruptive player in the multi-billion dollar Internet of Things (IOT) market. The company’s flagship Q device which is used in the construction industry was recently awarded Australian and New Zealand certification.

 

Respiri (ASX: RSH) completed its core technology software platform development and design of the latest generation AirSonea smartphone app in January. This proprietary technology has been designed to help asthmatics better monitor and manage their condition while staying in control of symptoms, leading to a better quality of life.

Do I buy the proprietary technology or the manager of the intellectual property

There is a common denominator that underpins any evolution in any sector and that is the need to astutely manage intellectual property (IP).

This involves thorough investigation regarding the potential to patent a product, followed by registration procedures which normally include not just the product itself but any complementary additional products that may be developed.

Having registered products, it is then a matter of closely monitoring the market to ensure they haven’t been copied or reengineered. Should breaches be identified, as is the case with all of these other procedures, specialised legal advice and services are required.

Such has been the increased demand for legal services spanning the protection, commercialisation, enforcement and management of a broad range of intellectual property that relatively large companies focused on addressing specifically those disciplines have emerged.

So the question has been raised as to whether one is better investing in the IP manager, which indirectly provides diversification across sectors and stocks, or whether to single out certain companies that appear to have compelling proprietary technology.

For those who lean towards investing in IP managers, the field has broadened since IPH (ASX: IPH) paved the way in 2014.

IPH (ASX: IPH) was the first of three such companies to list on the ASX. It debuted in November 2014, followed 12 months later by Xenith IP (ASX: XIP), and then in August 2016 QANTM Intellectual Property (ASX: QIP) listed on the ASX.

 

Of course it should be noted that share trading patterns should not be used as the basis for an investment as they may or may not be replicated. Those considering this stock should seek independent financial advice.

The share prices of all three companies have come under pressure in the last 12 months for various reasons. There is no doubt that the demise of Slater and Gordon (SGH) and the poor performance of Shine Corporate (ASX: SHJ) has cast a shadow over the sector.

 

How To Train Your Brain To Be More Innovative

It turns out that you can teach yourself to be more innovative after all.

When we think about an innovative person, our focus is often on their achievements: How they’ve changed their industry, how their big idea is disrupting the landscape that they’re operating in, or the scale and impact of their innovative practices.

What we don’t normally consider is the thought process they went through. We hear a lot about why we need to innovate, but not how we can actually do it.

Victor Poirier, a professor at the Institute of Advanced Discovery & Innovation at the University of South Florida, recently published a research paper in collaboration with nine of his colleagues that looks at the thought process behind innovation. The paper argues that innovation is a series of steps, and that innovators possess certain characteristics. Every individual possesses some of those characteristics—though to varying degree—and Poirier’s work looks at what those characteristics are, and how we can “awaken” them in order to unleash our own innovative genius.

According to Poirier’s research, here are a few things we can do to help train our brains to be more innovative.

DON’T WAIT FOR INSPIRATION TO STRIKE, CREATE IT: A-ha moments don’t just appear out of thin air. They follow five steps: Inspiration can strike systematically or spontaneously, but it often occurs after someone has already thought about whatever it is that inspires them. For example, you might be having trouble finding a solution to a problem you’re facing at work. Say you’re responsible for organizing the monthly meeting for your big team, but you find yourself spending a lot of time flicking between calendars, because there’s always a last-minute scheduling conflict. You talk to your colleagues, and then a few days later you realize that the best solution would be to get your whole team to download the Slack scheduling bot that automatically syncs everyone’s calendars and schedules meetings for you.

This solution didn’t appear out of nowhere—you let your brain “brew” the information and thoughts and then were able to tap into your creativity and arrive at a solution. In the paper, creativity is defined as “the ability to think about the world in new ways, to think from a clear, open perspective, and to be unencumbered by existing knowledge.” Sometimes a little bit of time is needed to have this perspective, because being too close to the problem can prevent identifying obvious solutions.

Of course, ideas without actions aren’t all that useful. So the next step requires you to implement the solution and see whether it provides the value you thought it would—the way an entrepreneur validates their business ideas by testing the market. When the group that you’re trying to help “accepts” your solution, it becomes innovation. Going back to the scheduling example, it’s on you to get your team to download the Slack bot, and also to make sure that you obtain feedback from your team and assess whether it does in fact save you time. If the feedback is positive and you find yourself with more free time as a result, your small solution becomes “innovation.”

CULTIVATE YOUR INNOVATIVE TRAITS: Like creativity, there’s a belief that innovative people are just born that way. That’s not necessarily true, according to Poirier.

He tells Fast Company, “Almost everybody [has] innovative traits. Some people use them, some people don’t. [I did this research] to make people aware of what traits people do have, wake up dormant traits that they don’t even know they have, and prove the utilization of those traits.”

Some of these traits, which Poirier lists in his research paper, include the ability to think abstractly, having deep and broad knowledge, curiosity, openness to risk, grit, and dissatisfaction with the status quo.

Poirier believes that working on cultivating the traits that already exist in an individual can lead to a greater ability to be innovative. Poirier and his colleagues at the institute are currently testing and developing ways in which they can teach individuals to do this.

If you see any of the above traits in yourself, you can deliberately seek out experiences to put those traits to use. For example, if you think that you possess grit but want to strengthen it, make it a habit to work on a project or goal from start to completion, and be ready to identify alternative paths if your current one isn’t working.

PUT YOURSELF IN ENVIRONMENTS THAT ARE CONDUCIVE TO INNOVATION: It’s probably no surprise that your environment plays a major part in developing the innovative characteristics you possess, and determines how often you use them. Poirier notes, “It depends a lot on your background and where you grow up and what you’re exposed to. If your parents are very intelligent, you will probably have more traits, and utilize those traits.”

Of course you can’t change the circumstances of your upbringing, but as an adult, we have more of a choice in the kinds of people that we surround ourselves with. You’ve probably heard the saying that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and this idea also applies in innovation. When you surround yourself with others who possess high levels of innovative traits and constantly use them, you yourself are likely to do the same.

HAVE SOME EGO, BUT NOT TOO MUCH: Ego is often viewed negatively—after all, we’ve seen too many examples of entrepreneurs who lost their way as a result of excessive ego. But Poirier believes that a little bit of ego can be helpful in creating innovation. “Ego makes people do things that they wouldn’t normally do. For instance, if a group of individuals are trying to solve a problem or create a solution, ego can motivate you to concentrate more, to work hard, to do better than the people around you. They really take the extra effort just because it makes them feel much better and superior to other people.”

Poirier notes, however, that there is a point at which ego stops being beneficial. “You can go to the other extreme, and think you’re great when you’re really not.” Innovators might be born, but they can also be made and trained. Thomas Edison trained himself to be innovative by testing out all the ways to make a light bulb that didn’t work before finally landing on a method that did, and we can train ourselves to be innovative by cultivating certain characteristics and surrounding ourselves with the right people in the right environment.

 


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