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ILP Institute Insider

September 29, 2014
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Taking the Broad View on R&D

This past spring, dozens of top executives from LG of South Korea traveled to MIT from around the world to meet with leading faculty and emerging startups in the Boston/Cambridge area. Members of LG’s Technology Council that includes CTOs and Heads of R&D labs at major LG businesses such as LG Electronics, LG Chem and LG Display, along with executive representatives from LG Corporation and 8 of LG’s largest businesses, participated in this custom, two-day event. This executive briefing included faculty presentations ranging from mechanical and materials engineering to innovation and high-tech business practices.
ILP Executive Director Karl Koster
welcomes LG executives to campus.
The LG group of companies is one of the world’s largest and broadest multinational conglomerates, with subsidiaries in electronics, chemicals, telecommunications, and other services. LG competes globally, so keeping ahead of the latest research and development presents a serious challenge requiring a special approach. In preparing for their event, they brought this challenge to the ILP: how does LG take a broader look at where it can potentially collaborate with MIT across many of its subsidiaries?

“It’s very effective for us to come to a place like MIT which has the breadth to match the needs of LG,” says Kaushal Patel, Director of Technology Partnerships at the LG Technology Center of America (LGTCA), an organization charged with establishing a broad spectrum of technology partnerships with companies and research institutions in North America.

“MIT’s difficult to ignore,” says Patel. “We’ve been associated with the ILP program at MIT for many years, and we’ve been engaging off and on in various capacities. What we’ve done differently this time is we’ve tried to take a more holistic approach in trying to bring together the needs across the LG Group.”

According to LG, coming to campus creates a great forum for exchange. It’s not just for corporate executives to learn about the research happening at MIT; it’s a chance to expose MIT researchers to the full spectrum of research activities happening at LG. “It makes it a two way communication,” says Patel, “Where we are able to discuss our needs and our challenges and hear about some of the solutions that exist, and maybe something comes out of that.”

“The ILP is a perfect fit for this type of an organization, because the breadth of the ILP matches the breadth of a cross-subsidiary interest group very well,” says Corey Cheng, Senior Industrial Liaison Officer at the ILP. As LG’s relationship manager and “eyes and ears” at MIT, Cheng worked closely for months with LG to define an agenda that leveraged the breadth of both organizations to maximize the event’s impact on both sides. “We’re very proud at the ILP to be a part of that type of solution for a company that large,” says Cheng.

But executives at LG see potential beyond the individual research projects discussed during the visit. Henry Chung, Managing Director of Innovation Ventures for LG Electronics, hopes some of his colleagues can take away a little bit of what he experienced first-hand as a student. “I graduated from MIT in 1994,” says Chung. “I had a great experience here, and I wanted to share it with as many people that I work with and interact with as possible.”

For Chung, sharing the MIT experience means sharing a sense of curiosity and a commitment to discovery that shaped his own education. “It’s not until you’ve spent some time here, spoken with some of the people, the professors, the students, the staff, that’s how you really get a sense of what MIT is all about,” he says. “I think the breadth of the possibilities here and the openness of the academic staff was quite apparent.”

Yoonwon Suh, head of the LG Technology Center of America, sees an even larger, overarching goal for their activities: “I think this is the first time that LG is engaged with MIT at a corporate level.” Corporate level initiatives are especially important, as they can often have an impact on many different subsidiaries simultaneously. In fact, Suh sees potential for working with MIT researchers not just in one subsidiary but across subsidiaries simultaneously in open collaboration. “You need technology from many, many different fields to really create an innovative and market leading product.”

For any R&D organization, the greatest potential impact of engaging MIT could come from that very sense of possibility and openness. “By engaging in this process we are hoping that LG itself will become a much more innovative company.”

Research News

September 29, 2014

How to make a “perfect” solar absorber

The key to creating a material that would be ideal for converting solar energy to heat is tuning the material’s spectrum of absorption just right: It should absorb virtually all wavelengths of light that reach Earth’s surface from the sun — but not much of the rest of the spectrum, since that would increase the energy that is reradiated by the material, and thus lost to the conversion process.

Now researchers at MIT say they have accomplished the development of a material that comes very close to the “ideal” for solar absorption. The material is a two-dimensional metallic dielectric photonic crystal, and has the additional benefits of absorbing sunlight from a wide range of angles and withstanding extremely high temperatures. Perhaps most importantly, the material can also be made cheaply at large scales.

The creation of this material is described in a paper published in the journal Advanced Materials, co-authored by MIT postdoc Jeffrey Chou, professors Marin Soljacic, Nicholas Fang, Evelyn Wang, and Sang-Gook Kim, and five others.

MIT Sloan
Management Review

September 8, 2014

Who’s Winning With Analytics? A Look At Analytical Innovators

As analytics becomes a common path to business value, many companies are changing how they make decisions, operate and strategize.

Whether they are just getting started with analytics or are seasoned practitioners, organizations are being challenged to step up the way they use data in decision-making. The implications for industry competition are clear: companies that incorporate analytics into their culture are finding success in the new digital era.

MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS Institute Inc. conducted a global executive survey that had 2,037 respondents from around the world. The survey also involved interviews with more than thirty executives. The report based on the research, “The Analytics Mandate,” is available online and as a downloadable PDF.

Among the statistics cited in the report:
  • Investments in business analytics expanded from 2009 to 2013, with an annual average growth rate of 8.5%.
  • The vast majority of survey respondents, 87%, want their organizations to step up the use of analytics.
  • The ability to manage information is developing slowly even though the pressure to use more data in decision-making is intense. Only 55% of respondents said their organization is using insights to guide future strategy “somewhat” or “very” effectively.
  • Culture is the key factor that enables companies to achieve a competitive advantage with analytics. An analytics culture unites business and technology around a common goal through a specific set of behaviors, values, decision-making norms and outcomes.
  • More than 90% of Analytical Innovator organizations — those companies that are most successful with analytics — are open to ideas that challenge the status quo. This is a far higher percentage than in other companies, which fall into the categories of Analytical Practitioners and Analytically Challenged.
  • The majority of Analytical Innovators (51%) strongly agree that their organizations treat data as a core asset. Only 15% of Analytical Practitioners are in that camp, and only 6% of Analytically Challenged companies are.
  • As well, Analytical Innovators are four times more likely to “strongly agree” that analytics has changed the way their organizations conduct business than Analytics Practitioners.
  • Some 78% of Analytical Innovators report that even though they are relatively further ahead of many other companies in using data to make decisions, there is the pressure on staff to become more data-driven and analytical. Only 43% of Analytically Challenged companies report the same kind of pressure.
“Organizations that are successful with analytics continue to invest in their analytical skills and technology to stay ahead of the curve,” says the report. “But perhaps the key point is that they foster the right analytics culture, are open to new ways of thinking and change the way they do business.”

In addition to featuring statistics drawn from the global survey, the report also includes examples of companies that have succeeded at using data effectively. Those companies include Entravision Communications, a Spanish-language media company based in California; State Street, a Boston-based financial services firm; StyleSeek, an online fashion recommendation platform; WellPoint, the largest for-profit managed care organization within the Blue Cross Blue Shield umbrella; and Caesars Entertainment, a global casino and hotel operator.


This article draws from “The Analytics Mandate,” a report based on a global executive study and research project conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and SAS Institute Inc. The report was written by David Kiron (MIT Sloan Management Review), Pamela Kirk Prentice (SAS Institute Inc.) and Renee Boucher Ferguson (MIT Sloan Management Review) and was released in Spring 2014.