Letter from the Executive Director

I continue to be amazed and delighted at the progress Silicon Flatirons continues to make. The successes over the past year have bolstered our status as one of the nation’s most comprehensive programs oriented around the Internet revolution. I can only hope that we continue to enjoy such growth and opportunities in the year ahead. This year marked a number of exciting new developments that I’d like to review in addition to looking ahead at 2008-2009.

I continue to be amazed and delighted at the progress Silicon Flatirons continues to make. The successes over the past year have bolstered our status as one of the nation’s most comprehensive programs oriented around the Internet revolution. I can only hope that we continue to enjoy such growth and opportunities in the year ahead. This year marked a number of exciting new developments that I’d like to review in addition to looking ahead at 2008-2009.

The Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship

Using some of the entrepreneurial skills we endeavor to impart to our students, the Silicon Flatirons Telecommunications Program embarked on a reverse merger with the Entrepreneurial Law Center that, in effect, we had operated as a parallel organization. As a result, we have now made official our focus on issues at the intersection of law, technology, and entrepreneurship while keeping our old moniker, “Silicon Flatirons.” So voila, we are now the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology, and Entrepreneurship and the acronym SFTP is no longer (and now replaced by SFC). But you can just call us Silicon Flatirons–even with a new and improved website that our crack webmaster and 2L Blake Reid masterminded. We are also incredibly lucky to have a first-rate administrator in Anna Noschese who has enhanced our effectiveness greatly.

An Expanded Silicon Flatirons Roster

Over the last several years, we have recruited a number of talented faculty members and fellows who have broadened our expertise and reach. As I discussed last year, Paul Ohm‘s reputation continues to grow and he is a force within Silicon Flatirons. Notably, his first article, The Myth of the Superuser, was downloaded over 1,000 times on SSRN. In terms of Silicon Flatirons, Paul took the lead on the Software Regulation Clearinghouse as well as on two roundtables on Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Public Policy–one on electronic discovery and another one privacy and data security.

Brad Bernthal is another superb asset. Brad is no stranger to Silicon Flatirons, having worked two years as our first fellow, but he is new to our faculty following his hire by Colorado Law an Associate Clinical Professor this year. Brad also serves as the Director of our Entrepreneurship Initiative. In that capacity, he not only teaches our Entrepreneurial Law Clinic and Venture Capital Law class, he also oversees the Law School’s certificate in entrepreneurial law and directs our increasing array of entrepreneurial-directed offerings, which I discuss below. On top of that, he also coaches two moot court teams (one on telecom law and one on trademark law), teaches a Spectrum Management course with Dale Hatfield, and directs the Glushko-Samuelson Technology Policy Law Clinic. Quite simply, we are lucky to have someone on board who does not need any sleep.

Our bench is getting deeper next year, thanks to some wonderful additions. We lost part of Jill Van Matre‘s time, as she joined ATLAS as its Associate Director. This was truly a win for us, too, as we are working ever more closely with ATLAS, supporting its mission of driving a cross-campus awareness of how information technology is transforming our society. Notably, ATLAS has joined our Entrepreneurship Initiative as a co-sponsor. And Jill is still a critical asset to us, directing the Institute of Regulatory Law and Economics and spearheading other initiatives, like our partnership with the US Telecom Training Institute (USTTI). With Jill’s time more scarce, we have hired another Research Fellow, Jill Rennert, who is spearheading our emerging entrepreneurship initiative. Jill Rennert is already off to a great start, planning the successful Entrepreneurs Unplugged event we held last April and laying the groundwork for a cross-campus Business Plan competition which will be the centerpiece of a Spring 2009 Entrepreneurship Week at the University of Colorado.

On the faculty front, we are, in effect, doubling our size this year. First off, Scott Peppet, a longstanding faculty member now affiliated with Silicon Flatirons, has moved full force with his research agenda into issues related to entrepreneurship and the impact that technological change has on our economy and society. Second, Harry Surden, fresh off a fellowship at Stanford, will join our faculty and teach in the intellectual property area. Third, Andrew Schwartz, formerly of the New York City law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, agreed to join our faculty and teach in the business law area and research issues at the intersection of technology and business. To top it off, we also officially constituted a group of affiliated faculty who are engaged in our various research, outreach, and educational efforts.

Providing critical support are our Adjunct Fellows, each of whom bring invaluable talents to our programming and operations. Ray Gifford remains an essential part of our mission and success, co-teaching a seminar with me this spring on the Law and Economics of Utility Regulation, co-directing the IRLE, and participating in a number of programs. Tom Lookabaugh, although no longer full-time with the University, remains an incredibly valuable advisor, supporter, and friend of the Program. Tom’s interests across the wide expanse of our mission–entrepreneurship, telecommunications policy, and information technology & intellectual property issues–make him uniquely qualified to help us remain on track. Finally, Pierre DeVries, a true renaissance man, brings enthusiasm, perspective, and ambition as our first out-of-state Adjunct Fellow. We are incredibly lucky to have them all as participants in our work.

Initiatives and Programs Which Continue To Elevate the Debate

A primary goal of Silicon Flatirons remains to contribute to and elevate information policy debates. Over the last year, we have undertaken a number of initiatives that enable us to offer valuable insights, support to policymakers, and develop opportunities for students to engage in and prepare for public policy work.

First off, we are delighted with the initial success of the Glushko-Samuelson Technology Policy Law Clinic, which a generous gift from Bob Glushko and Pam Samuelson made possible last year. Already, Brad Bernthal has enabled the students in the clinic to take on a variety of interesting projects, including two projects in connection with the Colorado Innovation Council that is focused on promoting broadband deployment in Colorado. For those students who have a hankering to get to Washington, we offer them summer stipends through the Hatfield Scholars and Research Fund, which was endowed in honor of Dale Hatfield. In another show of support for Dale, over 200 people came to a reception in spring 2008, raising yet more money for the Fund and thereby enabling even more students to gain access to such stipends.

Over the last year, Silicon Flatirons took over sole responsibility for the Institute for Regulatory Law & Economics (IRLE). This meant that we fully organized and planned the yearly conference held in Aspen each May as a five day crash course in law and economics for state regulators. This past year, we had another terrific program, with a very distinguished array of participants and an appreciative group of state regulators in attendance. We also added another component of the IRLE this year–a workshop for law professors interested in learning more about New Institutional Economics. This event was a great success and one that we expect to make a tradition as well.

In another new initiative directed abroad, Silicon Flatirons, working in partnership with the US Telecommunications Training Institute, offered international telecommunications executives and regulators an intensive one week course on Managing in An Era of Technological Change. This mini-course, which we made available to ITP students as well (and is available for distance learning students), was a great success, bringing together a number of our top faculty members and adjuncts to present the class with an interdisciplinary and very engaging set of presentations.

Our final frontier in the information policy realm is the set of programs we held around issues that will confront the next administration. This project began with our Digital Broadband Migration focused on “Information Policy for the Next Administration.” Once again, we had a terrific set of discussions and there are terrific set of papers that will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law. A second initiative was the ongoing development of our Flatirons Summits on Information Policy. These summits, which bring together a group of individuals from across academia, industry, government, and public interest groups, hash through difficult issues and seek to develop thoughtful insights as well as consensus on key policy issues. In June, we held two such summits–one on Public Safety Communications and another one Self Regulatory Approaches for Addressing Network Management–and produced an ex parte filing as a result of the first one as well as a comprehensive report as a result of the second one. The public safety communications focus followed a series of activities on that front, including a conference from last November, an article that resulted from a previous Summit, a study evaluating the opportunities for upgrading the 911 system, and testimony to the U.S. Senate on such issues by Dale Hatfield and myself.

To top things off, there are two exciting programs that are yet to come. First, in late August, I will moderate a Technology Policy Symposium in connection with the Democratic National Convention. Second, in September, Silicon Flatirons will work with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation on a program discussing “Innovation Economics for the Next Administration”.

The Silicon Flatirons Entrepreneurship Initiative

Finally, a particularly exciting development is our Entrepreneurship Initiative. This effort, which continues to develop momentum, includes our sponsorship of the Series on Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Public Policy, the New Technology Meetup, the Entrepreneurs Unplugged series, the Crash Course for Entrepreneurs Series, and the first ever campus-wide Business Plan Competition. We will formally announce the Business Plan competition and outline the Initiative–which is a partnership with ATLAS, the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, the Engineering Management Program, the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program–on Thursday, October 23rd in conjunction with the Unplugged event held that night. For more information about the Initiative, please see our website and the more extensive writeup in the September newsletter.

As I noted at the outset, it is heartening how much we are able to accomplish and I very much appreciate all of the support we have enjoyed over the last eight years. If you have other suggestions for ways we can improve and grow, please feel free to email me (phil.weiser@colorado.edu) or give me a call (303.735.2733).


Phil Weiser

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