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TiECON East - Winning In The New Climate

Ranjani Saigal

Approximately 600 people gathered at the Westin Hotel in Waltham, MA, on May 28 to hear panel discussions and presentations on this year's theme, "Winning in the New Climate."

TIECON-East 2010, Co-Chaired by Abhishek Jain premiered new tracks and a very successful innovation showcase that provided a lot of value add to the attendees. The conference consisted of four tracks:  technology, life science, clean technology and this year's newest addition, entrepreneurial opportunities in India.

The opening session featured three leading entrepreneurs from India, Padmaja Reddy, Managing Director of Spandana, Sameer Manchanda, Chairman, DEN Networks, and Shantanu Prakash, Chairman and CEO of Educomp. All three had very optimistic outlook both on doing business in India and also working to uplift the under privileged. Reddy's Microfinance business is ready to go IPO and has made a large scale impact on the lives of poor women. Manchanda described the ease of doing business in the  New Media space due to lack of regulation. Shantanu Prakash emphasized the value of IT in providing quality education in places that lack infrastructure.

The technology track, broken into three panel discussions, presented an entrepreneur's view of the mobile market, "The Silver Lining in Cloud Computing" and "Media 2.0: The Digital Revolution".Panelists spoke about the breakthroughs in life science diagnostics, new technologies for preventative medicine and other related topics in a session titled "Hospital at Home: Transforming Health Care."

Clean technology fit into TiECON's definition of a "new climate" in a literal sense, as the United States continues to investigate alternatives to fossil fuels. TiECON's clean technology presentations looked at the future of clean energy sources, efficiency and storage, as well as energy management.

“The Mobile Decade" moderated by Wade Roush from Xconomy, featured: Nick Brachet, CTO of Boston’s Skyhook Wireless; Ramji Raghavan, Founder and CEO of Movik; and Brad Hoover from General Catalyst Partners, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm was extremely revealing about the future of mobile business.

“If you look at the introduction of the iPhone, it’s helped consumers realize their phone can be much more than a voice device. As a result of that, we’ve seen a rise in the adoption of mobile applications that might have been available before but now make more sense to consumers and encourage them to do things with their mobile devices they might not have thought of,” said Hoover, who’s an investor in MocoSpace, which is a social media platform for mobile devices developed here in Boston. It’s all about entertaining users, and Hoover seemed to see more room for mobile users to find all kinds of entertainment with their devices. The panelist seemed to feel that browser-based applications still have the greatest potential for scaling, because they can be deployed on nearly all of the platforms currently supported by new mobile devices and the current landscape of service providers.

The India track debuted with three panels: "Entrepreneurship in India: New and Emerging Sectors," "The Rise of Entrepreneurial Opportunities in India and China" and" The Changing Face of Indian Media and Entertainment Industry."

TiECON's Innovation Showcase Panel introduced innovative companies to venture capital firms, entrepreneurs and consumers looking for the next big technological advancement. Watertown, MA based wireless electricity company Wytricity Corp. is a good example of a company attempting to maintain social responsibility while forging ahead technologically. "The company has developed a product that uses oscillating coils that create an electrical field consumers can use to recharge battery-operated devices" said Wytricity CEO Eric Giler.

Companies' ability to anticipate needs of consumers factors heavily into the new busness climate, according to TiE, which focused on several firms that stand at the forefront of their respective sectors in that department.

Among them is Intuitive Automata, a Cambridge, MA based maker of robots that can interact socially with users in order to help them lead healthier lives. The company's products wed technology — CEO and Founder Cory Kidd earned a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's media lab — with psychology.

Kidd's robot acts as a personal weight loss coach and provides a way for people trying to maintain a healthy diet in a way he says is more engaging and effective than simply viewing their progress via computer, he said. Daily interaction with the robot creates user accountability because they enter metrics like level of physical activity and how many calories the user consumes from day to day.

Health insurance company Aetna Inc. is planning to use Intuitive Automata's robots by early 2011, according to Kidd.

The variety of speakers and topics made this an interesting TIE conferencing. Plenty of networking opportunity and a nice gala added value to the event.

Sponsors of TiECON East included Atlas Ventures, Babson College, Bain Capital and Greylock Partners.

(Photographs provided by Timeless Lens Photogrpahy. )

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