BIF and Ellen Levy

Ellen Levy  Founding Managing Director, Silicon Valley Connect

Levy is currently the founding Managing Director at Silicon Valley Connect. She also serves as the Deputy Chair for the Global Health track within the Clinton Global Initiative; she is the Network Advisor to venture firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson; she is a consultant to the Kauffman Foundation; and she is an Industry Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology in the School of Engineering.

  • want to talk about ‘living the network effect.’
  • I was been giving my lecture by my PHD supervisor to focus, to pick a topic.   A that point I thought about being the masterjack of all trades, instead of master of none
  • I ran Media X at Stamford for a few years.   Earlier this year I left Stamford and did 2 companies. 
  • MediaX – a model for university-industry collaboration,  it looks at getting money from industry to support work.  There were 55 affiliate programme at the time.  No-one told me the rules at the time.   So I put together a programme of taking on questions from industry and providing answers.    If you want to think about questions, universities are not easy to ask them, the challenge is who do you ask.  we are bound by structure so you have to pick a place to ask
  • you have faculty and students, you have disciplines, you have schools, then you have the university on top.  So looking at creating this dialog, how do you do it. The university itself does not know itself well.    My programme looked at being able to navigate the structure.  We had 25 paying partners, entry level 50k, we said come ask us something multidisciplinary – our group did the navigation around the university. we played with the layer of information.
  • Everything was simple, we used simple mechanisms, it was easy to move ideas around.  It was all about the questions.   We ran on a small budget, we put money back to the university, it was not a large infrastructure it was people who could move ideas around.
  • En example, we had a number of partners talking about mobile devices, eg Nokia and cisco.  we got them talking together.  we wrote a one page question, which we took a month on.  Asking who was working on mobile devices and what applications.  What we got back, 17 proposals, and half of them had faculty rom more than one schools.  We had the right question, we got back good answers.  half the money went direct to graduates.
  • Tech transfer is not the same as idea transfer.  We had companies that said that stamford could not help them – they had gone to the tech transfer office, looked at IP,  but if you get to talking about ideas then that is where the richness.
  • Organisational principle is not the same as organisational structure.  Structure can get in the way of the process – this should not happen
  • It’s all about the ROI, for industry this is Investment, University is Research of Interest and Government is Results of Importance.
  • So start with good questions, Look at relationships over transactions  Sufficient Metrics do not yet exist.
  • I’ve started Silicon Valley Connect, work with multiple companies.  The network effect says that every time you add a node, the network benefits.  Everytime I add a new partner, the network benefits.  VCs, Linked in, multiple partners.
  • My challenges: how do you capture the value you create?  How do you scale? How do you answer what do you do?

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