Embedded System Innovation and Business Venture

— Embedded System Beijing Forum 18th Seminar & Shanghai Computer Society Ubiquitous Computing and Embedded System Committee Spring Seminar 2015

It is a consensus that innovation and business venture should be a public and wide-spread phenomenon. From a global stand point, modern electronic and information technology has earn its place in the society as the “traction of technology revolution”. In order to lead in the era of innovation, how should embedded system technology and industry adjust the course and live up to its reputation?

During the 2016 Munich Shanghai Electronic Show, Embedded System Beijing Forum 18th Seminar & Shanghai Computer Society Ubiquitous Computing and Embedded System Committee Spring Seminar 2016 was hosted in Shanghai, a stronghold of China’s electronic industry. At Engineering Research Center of East China Normal University, professionals and scholars came together and discuss hot topics around embedded system innovation and business venture.

The forum is hosted by Dr. Jianqi Shi, Associate Director of Shanghai Computer Society Ubiquitous Computing and Embedded System Committee, Prof. Zhanglong Chen, Professor of Fudan University School of Computer and one of the founding members of ESBF, made introduction speech. As one of the pioneers in the field, he is very familiar with the questions and concerns in the current situation. Chen thinks that people in the field need to seize the big opportunity of industrial Internet of Things, and put innovation before business. He also agrees that information security will become a major problem as the Internet of Things progress, and embedded system will have a chance to perform.

Innovation in Embedded System

Ning Jiang: From CES to Hot Areas of Innovation in Embedded System

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Consumer Electronic Show is an important indicator of the electronic industry. Ning Jiang, marketing director of Imagination shared his thoughts on embedded system innovation. In this year’s CES, 31% of the companies are from China, with 70% of the drone companies. She thinks the next innovation opportunities lie in IoT & Security, AR & VR, Car Electronic and AI.

Ning explained further that IoT Security will become increasingly important as more and more things become connected. There used to be notion of two areas, normal and secure world, more will be needed in the future. At Imagination, the company’s strategy is to develop base on MIPS, physically divide software into at most 255 areas and cater to broader need.

What’s happening in the area of automobile is to make cars intelligent, including semi-auto self-drive, drive aid and safety, onboard device and interface, as well as car network. All these (including navigation and self-driving) require GPU to handle large amount of data, giving the industry a new opportunity. As an upper stream provider, Imagination is competitively positioned to provide product combinations of different level.

The current trend of VR can be describe as immersive, interactive and imaginative. AR is the key to the interaction of the real world, which is used mostly for tour guiding and education. VR still require high-end CPU and GPU to process all the data; it also place loads on data transfer and interfacing.

Jianhua Shen: Optimizing and Crossing the Boundary is the Key of Embedded System Innovation

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As both a scholar and an entrepreneur, Prof. Jianhua Shen of China East Normal University shared his thoughts on innovation and business venture. He points out that according to Cisco, at least 50 billion more devices will be connected to the network in the next decade, most of which will be embedded system. Obviously, this is a great opportunity for the industry.  He thinks there are two types of innovation, ground-breaking ones and optimizing ones. The optimizing ones could gather momentum and change business pattern and become ground-breaking. He also think that embedded system innovation can be developed with two methods: first is boundary crossing, boost innovation with cooperation between different fields; second is optimize existing resources to foster new value. For application on IoT, the natural course for embedded system innovation is device hardware design and development; meanwhile, a lot of software optimization work is left undone in embedded system, and we also cannot ignore cloud service and mobile applications.

Allan He: Embedded System Innovation in Germany

Allan He, our Secretary in Chief, attended Nuremberg Electronic Show in Germany in February. It is one of the leading shows in embedded system industry. More than 800 companies attended the show this year. And there more than 150 presentations were given, topics include IoT Security, software engineering, Linux, industry fieldbus and test technology. He also visited many embedded and industry automation companies in Germany. He summarizes three points:

First, the ecology of embedded system in Germany is very complete, including chip manufacturing, operating system development, software engineering, certification and testing etc. It is easier to discover new grounds for innovation in such an environment.

Second, the innovation in Germany is driven by applications, with car electronic and industry automation leading the pack.

Third, German engineers view latest technology in a more practical way, e.g. IoT, Big Data and AI. Most of the participants are from embedded system industry; they focus more on how to use these technologies in the industry and the products. Embedded companies in China could make use of such practical mindset.

Business Venture in Embedded System

Jianhua Shen: Seize the Opportunity and Be Well Prepared

Prof. Jianhua Shen is also co-founder of MXChip, he has a unique view on business venturing in embedded system industry. He mentions several points on how to innovate:

First, embedded products with improved design. Individuals, small teams or even amateurs can easily start a traditional selling business.

Second, embedded system products for IoT. Products are usually not the primary focus here; service is more important. A team and some starting capital is required for this way.

Third, find new business models. In this mode, hardware platform could cost less or even be free, but a cross-boundary innovation is needed. Many new startups use this mode, leveraging venture capital to realize their business fast.

Prof. Shen also talked about the basic conditions of starting up business in embedded system, opportunity, timing, innovation, teamwork and capital are all essential, but practitioners have to bear in mind that they have to dig deeper and thoroughly evaluate their ideas, unless they are already experts in the field or have a lot of experience. After evaluation, they have to focus all the strength on one point and try their best.

Guoxiang Zhang: Focus on One Point

From the perspective of an investor, Guoxiang Zhang, associate of Neowing Capital, analyzed many actual cases to share his thoughts. He emphasizes that starting a business is very hard, with problems in all aspects. Finding a field that you excel in is the core. Practitioners should form a good team and dig in only one point, and find out the most suitable customers. Miss Zhang also shared two very successful cases.

In the discussion phase, scholars like Yue Wang from Shanghai University, Man Wang from Shanghai Second Polytechnic University, Fei He from East China University of Science and Technology, Wenxuan min from Shanghai Institute of Computing Technology, Yaofeng Xue from East China Normal University, and industry practitioner like Shuohua Dai, Junde Jin and Guangyue Cai from Bangwen Technology, Zhenqian Tao from Cangxin Electronic all joined in the discussion, giving their input on innovation and business venture.