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A slew of new product introductions indicate virtual reality technology is coming into its own - but it's a sector that is still waiting for a breakthrough product to win over consumers.

Net neutrality: network as a necessity

Society March 25th, 2015, WEI Wuhui / Lecturer, School of Media and Design, Shanghai Jiaotong University

The Net neutrality has nothing to do with universal values. Its aim is to balance interests between Internet service providers and Internet content providers. This was the biggest stake in the U.S. Federal Communications Commission decision, in February. What did it say exactly? Can such a decision really provide the ICPs and public with a free and equal Internet accessibility without any costs?

Energy transition series – Which future for hydrogen and fuel cells?

Science and Technology March 23rd, 2015, Hélène Pierre / Market Manager City and Territories, Research and Technology Department, GDF-SUEZ ; Treasurer, French Association for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell

Storing electricity? Some old solutions to this old problem are gaining momentum nowadays, thanks to recent improvements. Among these solutions, using electricity to obtain hydrogen and reconverting it later into energy or heat via fuel cells. The advantages are numerous: the possibility to store the excess production of electricity generated by renewable energy sources, to mix the hydrogen with natural gas (methane), to power electric vehicles… But there are as many challenges ahead if we want hydrogen to be a significant part of the future energy mix. Actions are under way. Let us discover them!

Industrial and technical challenges in the nuclear power industry

Industries March 20th, 2015, Hervé Machenaud / Vice President Asia-Pacific, Electricité de France (EDF), Former Group Senior Executive Vice President of Generation, EDF

In an industrial facility, the key-concept is reliability. It is all the more true in utilities such as electric power companies, since one must be able to trust the electricity provider 24/7, year in, year out. It is even crucial when it comes to nuclear power production, where one should expect high sustainability and total safety. In this industry, rigorous mastering of the production tool is thus a necessary condition for the technical and economic performance. The heart of this industrial model is engineering.

Education Series – 5 – Should we all learn to code?

Science and Technology March 17th, 2015, Serge Abiteboul / Senior Researcher, INRIA, Professor, ENS Cachan, Member of the French Academy of Sciences

The question first arose in the 1980s, with the advent of the personal computer: were we all going to have to learn to program? The development of the software industry seemed to have given one definitive, and negative, answer to this question. Yet it is coming back, with a vengeance. Why exactly should we take it seriously this time around?

Education Series – 4 – Collaborative practices in education

Society March 12th, 2015, François Taddei / Biology Researcher, Founder and CEO, Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI, Paris)

With the rise of machines, an important number of skills are bound to disappear. But the emergence of new issues also requires new forms of human expertise. Facing worldwide problems that we are yet unable to solve, we need to develop different forms of intelligence, learn to cooperate and achieve results that aren't possible for individuals alone. Will our education systems, fundamentally based on competition, meet this challenge?

Hidden champions are market leaders that are often not well known by the general public. These small and medium size businesses focus on niche markets that they dominate at a national, regional or even global scale, with a market share often exceeding 70%. Exceptionally numerous in Germany, where they form the backbone of the Mittelstand, they explain both this country's exporting power and its resilience to crises.

During the 20th century Governments and public agencies such as NASA played a major role in the innovation chain. The Internet itself was born through public programs, just as GPS and many other game-changing technologies. But in recent years, questions arose over the efficiency of public efforts, challenged by smart, dynamic, powerful corporations such as Google, on the one hand, or bottom-up and open source models, on the other hand. Are Governments out of the game?

New digital upstarts are threatening the bottom lines, growth prospects, and even business models of traditional service providers. It’s time for incumbents to innovate... or be left behind.

Rising energy consumption round the world, rarefaction of fossil energy sources, climate change, the necessary reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions… The development of new and renewable energy sectors, emitting few or zero GHGs has become primordial. Faced with this inevitable energy transition phase, nuclear fusion could be justified, provided we can prove its feasibility, thereby enabling a move to industrial fusion power production. This is the challenge assigned to the ITER international research facility.

The future of entreprise – 7 – Towards new value proposals

Business February 19th, 2015, Nicolas Colin / Co-founder and Partner, TheFamily

Business models that emerge today outline a world of hyper-competition: in the digital economy, it's always possible to find both better and cheaper elsewhere. Now, this tendency is spreading beyond the borders of the Net. How can a company survive in this ruthless world? How can it possibly stand out from others? New trends are emerging, new value proposals that could become the cornerstone of tomorrow's economy.

Children of the digital era are accustomed to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. Philosopher Michel Serres describes them as no longer having the same heads. Is it a generational question? In any case educators cannot ignore the new thinking patterns. Our schools must take them into account, not only in adapting teaching methods but also in inventing a new role in a Society that consumes knowledge instantly.

Knowledge is becoming increasingly important in our economies and Society at large, to the extent that a new expression has been coined to baptize this new development phase: the knowledge-based economy. Characterized by the growing contribution of production, dissemination and uses made of knowledge (intangible or immaterial capital) to the competitiveness of enterprises and nations, the knowledge-based economy calls for future citizens and workers to be taught a renewed set of skills, differing partly from those developed during the industrial era.

The Internet has revolutionized our access to knowledge. Why should education not be affected? Institutions are evolving, but the arrival of new technologies and practices such as MOOCs have only had a limited impact thus far. Yet it is now apparent that we stand at the dawn of major changes. It is not just the new tools that will change matters but an in-depth evolution of Society and our economies.

2025: how would a Digital Earth deal with Ebola?

Science and Technology February 2nd, 2015, Dan Abelow / Inventor, technology consultant and author

It's 2025, a Digital Earth where continuous connections are everywhere, yet it's a planet where infectious disease outbreaks can erupt anywhere and spread worldwide in days. To provide a strategic health care firewall against medical crises and bio-terror, the Centers for Disease Control have matured digitally into a global, real-time e-CDC. New medical threats are identified, responded to and contained 24 x 365. As a real-time partner of health services around the world, the e-CDC's digital presence is everywhere. In this continuously connected future, it uses the best specialists to deliver the best medical protection everywhere, instantly, all the time.

This is the other side of globalization: more and more cases of misunderstanding. However, it is not impossible to avoid them. All you need are a few keys that allow you to step into the other person's shoes. Here are ten such keys, covering some especially sensitive points met in the business world.

The 8 proven principles for managing innovation

Business January 29th, 2015, Rémi Maniak / Associate Professor at Telecom ParisTech and Researcher at Ecole Polytechnique

Yes, it is possible to rationalize the innovation effort, moving on from managing equilibrium to handling a constant imbalance. No, this is no easy matter. It requires that we revise - and fairly extensively - our natural reflexes and current tools, without slipping into fashionable fads. The good news is that research in management has now identified the principles needed to manage innovation. Here are eight of these principles.

Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal recently got a major boost: a $627 million investment from SoftBank, the Japanese telecom and media giant. This is the largest investment so far in the Indian e-commerce space. Snapdeal began as an online group discounting site in 2010. In 2012, it transformed itself into a marketplace almost overnight, and today has more than 50,000 merchants, five million products and 30 million users. The company is also entering new categories like real estate and automobiles. But co-founder Kunal Bahl doesn't consider Snapdeal to be an e-commerce player. In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, he says the firm is really a technology company, enabling others to do e-commerce.

Services in China: a revolution in the making

Business January 23rd, 2015, Wayne Wang / Chairman, CEO and Founder of CDP Group, Former President of the Human Resources Forum of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, Executive Member of the Council of Shanghai Modern Service Union

In China just like everywhere else, the tertiary sector has long been deemed as an affiliation or an attachment to primary and secondary industries with a certain amount of contribution to employment, but never as a driver of the economy. The game is changing. Industries such as finance and retail are facing a technological reinvention, and great changes are also reshaping HR services.

Our foodstuffs in the future may be full of surprises. The challenges are high, human imagination is boundless. Numerous emerging innovations can be noted. Some are still in the labs, others are seeking to gain a foothold in the marketplaces.

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