On September 13, Mind the Bridge hosted a policy hackathon sponsored by Dell at the MTB Innovation Center in San Francisco. The Dell PolicyHack™ brought together entrepreneurs and U.S./EU policy experts to solve policy challenges. The goal is to productively brainstorm and to provide top-line thinking that can inspire and serve as basis to develop and implement full policies.
My team was formed by:
- Sara R. Klucking (Section Chief, Innovation & Programs, Office of Science and Technology Cooperation, US Department of State)
- Bogdan Ceobanu (Policy Officer, Startups & Innovation, European Commission)
- David Hodgson (CEO, Hummingbird Labs)
The five teams had 75 minutes to come up with a policy solution to issue areas that impact entrepreneurs. Each team was then be given five minutes to pitch their solution to the panel of judges formed by:
- Pēteris Zilgalvis (Head of Unit, Startups and Innovation, European Commission)
- John Zysman (Professor Emeritus, Political Science, UC Berkeley)
- Burton Lee (European Entrepreneurship, Stanford University)
- Richard Boly (Principal, Beaurichly Llp)
- Alberto Onetti (Chairman, Mind the Bridge and Startup Europe Partnership).
Master of ceremony was Kristen Mattern (Senior Government Affairs Manager, Dell). The issue areas were: funding, trade, migration, patents, and privacy. Obviously, I chose patents.
When I started telling my team my ideas about patents (basically, how to effectively end the system, since it is so broken and dysfunctional, and what would happen), they thought I was out of my mind. But I ended up convincing them with evidence. So finally my proposals were the ones I presented . We were supposed to present as a group, but Sara and David fled right before we were up for the presentation, and Bogdan “let me do the talking” and the answering of questions.
Although the other teams did a great job, my team won!
The award: to have my ideas written in a paper that will be presented to the European Commission as “expert policy advice”.
It’s ironic: over a decade after I was lobbying against software patents in the European Commission in Brussels, having Microsoft’s lobbyist as my main adversaries, now the European Commission takes my anti-patents ideas as expert advice, and Microsoft is my free-software company’s main partner. I guess time puts everything in its place.
That’s how you hack the system from inside.
Although I never believed that was the way to real and meaningful change, at least now I can say “been there, done that”.