2014 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report Letter From the Executive Director

As I write this letter, Silicon Flatirons is winding up its 15th year. During the past 15 years, we have provided policy leadership, supported entrepreneurship and innovation, and helped to develop talented professionals. On all fronts, we have done so through interdisciplinary collaboration, community engagement, and developing insights that push the boundaries of knowledge. In this annual report, we do far more than look back on the last year; we will also highlight what we have accomplished over our first 15 years.

Policy Leadership

In just over a decade, the phrase “network neutrality” went from an academic curiosity discussed at our Broadband Digital Migration Conference for the first time (in February 2003) to a concept embraced by the President of the United States. Similarly, concepts around privacy harm and moving beyond “command-and-control” regulation in wireless spectrum also gained currency at our conferences. It is thus no accident that three of our senior fellows – Jonathan Sallet, Gigi Sohn, and Phil Verveer – ended up as top advisors to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and that both FCC Chairman Wheeler and FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez are returning this February for our February 8-9th Digital Broadband Migration Conference. Last year, Chairman Wheeler captured our aspirations, concluding that “Silicon Flatirons is a place where law, policy, and entrepreneurship come together to discuss the present and plot the future. That is a unique contribution to our national dialogue.”

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Entrepreneurship and innovation are changing our society. Silicon Flatirons is committed to making CU-Boulder a top-flight university for entrepreneurship by engaging our tremendous entrepreneurial community. As Brad Feld described our effort, “Silicon Flatirons turned the university inside-out. They have propelled CU-Boulder to the point where it is now an entrepreneurial university.” By serving as an Applications Programming Interface (API) to a range of communities, we engage broader audiences, from those on campus-for example, by hosting the New Venture Challenge to those in the Front Range startup scene-for example, by hosting Startup Colorado to those scaling up promising emerging growth companies, for example, by hosting the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network.

Such efforts are gaining attention. Citing our sponsorship of the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, Forbes ranked CU-Boulder as one of the top 20 entrepreneurial universities in the US. On the heels of this recognition, CU-Boulder Chancellor Phil Distefano’s 2014 State of the Campus put entrepreneurship front and center in his address, emphasizing that entrepreneurship is part of CU-Boulder’s brand and identity.

As a doer and a thought leader, we are committed to both spurring and understanding entrepreneurship and innovation. To that end, conferences such as ones focused on Understanding Disruptive Innovation and Sci-Fi and Entrepreneurship and research reports such as ones focused on cybersecurity in health care and energy, the Denver Startup Scene, University Outreach, Health Care Innovation, and boundary jumping are plowing new ground and highlighting the way forward for us and others.

Talent Development

At Silicon Flatirons, we are committed to developing creative problem solving professionals who are engaged across disciplines and who have entrepreneurial attitudes. (More generally, this spirit drives Colorado Law’s strategy to adapt to the changing realities of legal education; for details, see here, here, and here.) For two powerful examples of what we are doing, consider the Dale Hatfield Scholars Program, which places students in technology policy internships in Washington, D.C. and the Technology Lawyer Accelerator, which places students with technology companies after completing a rigorous boot camp. These innovative programs, which are exceptionally well received by students and employers, have received media attention in places like the New York Times. We also provide a range of opportunities for members of our community to raise their creative problem solving skills, multi-disciplinary engagement, and entrepreneurial perspective through a range of public-facing programing such as our Crash Courses and Entrepreneurs Unplugged events.

Summing Up

Whenever I see you next, I look forward to your involvement in Silicon Flatirons. I also encourage you to be in touch with our initiative directors, Brad Bernthal, Kristelia Garcia, Paul Ohm, Blake Reid, and our Program Director Anna Noschese (anna.noschese@colorado.edu) or myself (phil.weiser@colorado.edu) as you have ideas or suggestions for us. We are excited for the next fifteen years, looking forward to continued experimentation and boundary jumping as we drive policy leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation, and talent development in Colorado, the United States, and the world.

Phil Weiser

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