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Japan Poised to Sell Fuel Cell Technology to European Homes

Following a successful introduction in its home market, Japan is poised to commence marketing a hi-tech next-generation energy source - domestic fuel cells - to the UK and Germany. Major companies, including electronics giant Panasonic, are in talks with EU governments about the possibility of exporting these proven energy and carbon-saving devices to Europe and elsewhere.

[Estimated timeframe:2011-2020]

Panasonic and other Japanese manufacturers are currently in talks with EU governments about the possibility of bringing these proven energy and carbon-saving devices to market in Europe and elsewhere.

Panasonic describes as "intense" the interest in its commercial fuel-cell project from the respective governments of Germany, Korea and the UK.

Japan, the first nation to start commercial fuel-cell sales for homes in 2009, is set to become the global forerunner in popularising the technology - which has been around for more than 100 years.

It converts fuels such as hydrogen and natural gas into electricity via an electrochemical reaction. The heat generated warms buildings in gas-boiler-sized boxes known as cogeneration fuel cells.

Cited as an example of common usegage, all of the heating and hot water and the majority of the electricity needed by a typical UK home would be generated by a fuel-cell, without the need to be connected to the energy-wasteful national grid. Such efficient use of gas supplies can save the consumer around 25% of total energy costs, and reduce each home's CO2 emissions.

Manufacturers claim that with over 5,000 fuel cells providing heat and energy for conventional homes across Japan, emissions have been reduced by up to 2.5 tonnes annually.


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Source: BBC.co.uk
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=5085

Asia set to overtake US in green technology

Asian economies look set to outstrip the US in the clean technology market by rapidly increasing investment in manufacturing capacity and research and development, said a report by two American think-tanks.

The US attracted about $52bn (€35bn, £31bn) in private capital for renewable energy technologies between 2000 and 2008, said a report from the Breakthrough Institute and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
China was catching up rapidly by the end of that period, with a total of $41bn in private capital invested.

But the report said that over the five years to 2013, China, Japan and South Korea would between them invest a total of $509bn in clean technology under current plans. China had already earmarked $177bn in stimulus funds for green projects including high-speed railways.

US investment over the same period was likely to be about $172bn if projected spending based on the economic stimulus package went ahead. If the US was to remain competitive, the government must increase its planned spending on clean energy “R & D” and on stimulus measures to boost clean technology.

The report said China was “poised to replicate many of the same successful strategies that Japanese and South Korean governments used to establish a technological lead in electronics and automobiles”.
In depth: Green technology

An FT series analysing how clean technologies and the companies behind them are coping with the economic downturn, government policy and public expectation.

The strategy includes providing fledgling companies with low-interest loans, funding industry-wide R&D, ensuring that government procurement is geared towards domestic companies and providing subsidies for private groups to buy advanced clean technologies.

The advantage gained by these “clean-tech tigers” will make it difficult for later-to-market companies and countries to take advantage of the growing demand for low-carbon goods, which is set for a further boost if governments can put in place a new framework on controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

According to some estimates, the global market for low-carbon goods and services is already nearing $3,000bn and set to reach $4,500bn by 2015.

Some signs of China’s potential future dominance of clean technology markets are already evident. The country is the world’s ­biggest exporter of solar power components and has one of the biggest wind ­turbine manufacturing industries.
This year, according to the report, China will export the first wind turbines destined for use in a US wind farm, for a project valued at $1.5bn.

The report found the US relied on foreign-owned companies to manufacture most of its wind turbines, produced less than 10 per cent of the world’s solar cells, and was “losing ground on hybrid and electric vehicle technology and manufacturing”.


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Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4928

Web ads' market share overtakes TV in UK

The internet has overtaken television to become the UK’s largest advertising medium, according to a report by PwC for Britain's Internet Advertising Bureau.

The UK is the first large media market to see such a shift.

Spending on online advertising grew 4.6 per cent in the first half of 2009 compared with the same period last year to reach £1.75bn, driven largely by search engine advertising.

By contrast, overall advertising spending fell 16.6 per cent. As a result, online’s share of the total grew from 18.7 per cent in the first half of last year to 23.5 per cent, ahead of TV’s 21.9 per cent.

Online overtook news­paper advertising sales income in 2006.

The web’s rise as an advertising medium has slowed substantially from its 17 per cent growth rate last year. But the recession means online has overtaken television spending six months sooner than expected, said Guy Phillipson, IAB chief executive.

Online video seen as the key to future growth:

The development of online video advertising is critical if internet marketing is to maintain its growth rate, industry observers say, Tim Bradshaw writes.

Online adverts have become the largest part of the market primarily as a medium for direct sales, but video could attract more branding money to the web. According to figures published today by PwC and the Internet Advertising Bureau, UK first-half revenue from online adverts shown before and after a video grew 195 per cent year-on-year to about £11m.

The market has been boosted by the growth of TV broadcasters’ online services, such as the ITVPlayer and Channel 4’s 4oD. However, online video remains a minor part of the marketing mix. “It’s still quite small,” said Eva Berg-Winters of PwC. “TV is still a major force.”

Although technology, telecoms and finance companies have embraced web advertising, because their products can be more easily purchased online, consumer goods makers have been less enthusiastic.

“It’s good growth but it doesn’t feel like it’s about to hit a tipping point where TV advertisers are whipping their budget online,” said Ian Maude of Enders Analysis, the research firm. “There is very little chance of online video advertising representing any kind of threat to TV advertising within the next five years.”

Online advertisers are able to discern more precisely than from other media how many people have seen a commercial and whether they have made an immediate purchase. This “accountability” had helped online increase its market share, said Mr Phillipson.

Mr Phillipson said online could reach a 30 per cent market share within a few years, a threshold no single medium has crossed before.

“It’s a point in history,” said Peter Scott, chairman and joint chief executive of Engine Group, one of the UK’s largest independent advertising agency groups. “It marks a point when things aren’t going to go back to the way they were. The change of technology and media fragmentation is not going to stop.”

However, Eva Berg-Winters of PwC, who compiled the research, said online’s lead “could reverse” in the short term if TV had a revival after the downturn.

“The structural shift towards online has been accelerated in the recession,” she added. “Eventually I would expect online to be ahead of TV. It will become hard to tell the difference between the two.”

To boost the internet’s accountability to advertisers, Nielsen, the market research group, was this week appointed to create an industry-standard audience measurement tool for the web.

Thinkbox, the marketing body for commercial television broadcasters, challenged the IAB report, saying gathering the components of online advertising into a single figure was an unfair comparison.

“Online marketing spend is made up of many things including e-mail, classified ads, display ads ... And, overwhelmingly, search marketing,” said Lindsey Clay, Thinkbox’s marketing director. “They should be judged individually.”

The IAB countered that online advertising was “all on the same [internet protocol] platform”, just as newspaper display and classified adverts were combined to give a total figure for press advertising.

Search engine advertising, which makes up 60 per cent of the online adverts market and is dominated by Google in the UK, grew by 6.8 per cent year on year to £1.05bn. Classified advertising shifted from print to the web much faster than expected in the downturn, with 10.6 per cent online growth to £385m. But display, such as banner adverts, fell 5.2 per cent to £316.5m.

 


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Source: FT.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4808

China becomes world leader of trademarks

As of September 15, this year 1.005 million applications for trademark registration in China have been reviewed, up 153 percent year-on-year.

The figure, covering eight and a half months, equals that of the previous three years and three months, marking an important milestone in China's trademark history. At present, China ranks first in the world in volume of trade mark applications, reviews and registrations, and has become a world leader for trademarks.

Reporters learned that the volume of China's trademark applications has ranked first in the world for seven consecutive years from 2002 to 2008. The number of trademark applications is expected to exceed 700,000 this year, ranking first in the world.

 


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Source: People's Daily, China
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4777

UK physicist reveals 'high hopes' for invisibility cloak

Transparency is not a state much desired by governments, investment bankers, hedge funds, private equity companies and other leeches on the body of global trade and industry. But literal invisibility might become a real-life fact in the near future, claims physicist Professor Ulf Leonhardt of St Andrews University, Scotland.

A physicist has said he hopes to make major advances in the field of invisibility in the next two years.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt at St Andrews University is working on a blueprint for a cloaking device that could also be used to shield coast lines.

The researcher, who cites the Invisible Woman and Harry Potter as inspiration, has been working on the concept of invisibility since 2006.

The project will focus on a connection between light and curved space.

Prof Leonhardt, who describes his invisibility work as "geometry, light and a wee bit of magic", hopes to manipulate modern metamaterials - or "designer atoms" to create an invisibility device using the laws of refraction.

He believes that in bending light, transparent materials like glass or water appear to distort the geometry of space, which is the cause of many optical illusions, including invisibility.

'Extreme ideas'

Prof Leonhardt said: "The idea of invisibility has fascinated people for millennia, inspiring many myths, novels and films.

"In 2006, I began my involvement in turning invisibility from fiction into science, and, over the next two years, I plan to develop ideas that may turn invisibility from frontier science into applicable technology."

Although the professor admitted it was difficult to predict possible applications, he suggested invisibility research could be used to improve visibility, leading to the development of the perfect retroreflectors (cats eyes), better microscopes and improved lenses.

He added: "I will most certainly find easier ways of cloaking, but it remains to be seen how practical they are.

"The important thing is to understand the foundations and come up with something new or take an existing idea to extremes; using technology and ideas to make things happen - technology we cannot imagine would ever exist."

The project is being funded by the Royal Society's Theo Murphy Blue Skies Award.

 


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Source: bbc.co.uk
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4665

Artificial Brain 'Ten Years Away'

A detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years, a leading scientist has claimed. Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already simulated elements of a rat brain. He told the TED Global conference in Oxford that a synthetic human brain would be of particular use finding treatments for mental illnesses.

[Estimated timeframe:Q3 2009 - 2020]

Around two billion people are thought to suffer some kind of brain impairment, Markram said. "It is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years," he said. "And if we do succeed, we will send a hologram to TED to talk."

The Blue Brain project was launched in 2005 and aims to reverse engineer the mammalian brain from laboratory data.

In particular, Markram's team has focused on the neocortical column - repetitive units of the mammalian brain known as the neocortex.

"It´s a new brain," he explained. "The mammals needed it because they had to cope with parenthood, social interactions complex cognitive functions.

"It was so successful an evolution from mouse to man it expanded about a thousand fold in terms of the numbers of units to produce this almost frightening organ."

And that evolution continues, he said. "It is evolving at an enormous speed."

Over the last 15 years, Professor Markram and his team have picked apart the structure of the neocortical column.

"It´s a bit like going and cataloguing a bit of the rainforest - how may trees does it have, what shape are the trees, how many of each type of tree do we have, what is the position of the trees," he said.

"But it is a bit more than cataloguing because you have to describe and discover all the rules of communication, the rules of connectivity."

The project now has a software model of "tens of thousands" of neurons - each one of which is different - which has allowed them to digitally construct an artificial neocortical column.

Although each neuron is unique, the team has found the patterns of circuitry in different brains have common patterns.

"Even though your brain may be smaller, bigger, may have different morphologies of neurons - we do actually share the same fabric," he said.

"And we think this is species specific, which could explain why we can´t communicate across species."

World view
To make the model come alive, the team feeds the models and a few algorithms into a supercomputer.

"You need one laptop to do all the calculations for one neuron," he said. "So you need ten thousand laptops."

Instead, he uses an IBM Blue Gene machine with 10,000 processors. Simulations have started to give the researchers clues about how the brain works. For example, they can show the brain a picture - say, of a flower - and follow the electrical activity in the machine.

"You excite the system and it actually creates its own representation," he said.

Ultimately, the aim would be to extract that representation and project it so that researchers could see directly how a brain perceives the world.

But as well as advancing neuroscience and philosophy, the Blue Brain project has other practical applications.

For example, by pooling all the world´s neuroscience data on animals - to create a "Noah´s Ark", researchers may be able to build animal models. "We cannot keep on doing animal experiments forever," said Professor Markram.

It may also give researchers new insights into diseases of the brain.

"There are two billion people on the planet affected by mental disorder," he told the audience.

The project may give insights into new treatments, he said.


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Source: BBC.co.uk
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=4554

Global Satellite Cellphone Plan Aims High

Harbinger Capital Partners founder Philip Falcone is pressing forward with a multibillion-dollar plan to build an international satellite-cellphone business, even as he tries to battle back from steep losses in his hedge funds. It is an unusually bold project given the conservative mood on Wall Street, where investors are shying away from big, risky bets. But Mr. Falcone is a strong believer in the technology, which would add satellite capabilities into cellphones, providing coverage in dead spots and eventually allowing business travelers to use their devices globally.

[Estimated timeframe:Q2 2009-onward]

Mr. Falcone has been pushing the idea since before his once-booming funds ran into trouble. In recent months, he has been trying to raise as much as $1.6 billion in strategic financing for the project, people familiar with the situation say, but it has been challenging to attract capital for an idea that would have been tough to pull off even in good times.

Google Inc. and News Corp. are among the companies that have been approached, but so far they haven't committed funding, the people familiar with the matter say. Mr. Falcone is in discussions now with a range of other potential strategic investors, including wireless carriers, the people say. News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., which publishes The Wall Street Journal.

He is also prepared to put up as much as $1 billion through Harbinger, possibly through a new private-equity-style fund he is in the process of raising, the people say. Korean conglomerate SK Holdings Co. is a major investor in that fund, which has a five-year lock-up for investors, one of the people said. SK Holdings may also take a role as strategic partner in the venture. SK Holdings didn´t respond to a request for comment.

Harbinger investors will gather in New York on Monday for a Harbinger client conference featuring such media figures as Michael Ovitz and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair as speakers. One investor called the satellite plan Mr. Falcone´s "next big thing" and said the hedge-fund manager has studied the technology involved so closely that he makes a compelling case. Mr. Falcone will show a prototype phone at the conference Monday. It is about the size of a BlackBerry and would cost about the same, according to Harbinger´s production estimates.

But even some longtime supporters have their doubts. Among the challenges, they say: The new devices could initially be much costlier than regular cellphones, because they would need to be tailored to include satellite functions and wouldn´t be produced in mass quantities. And it isn´t clear how much value there is in plugging cellphone coverage holes in rural areas. Other satellite-phone efforts, notably those of Globalstar Inc. and Motorola Inc.-backed Iridium, ended up in bankruptcy protection, and were relaunched to serve much smaller niches.

"When people say they want to use their phone anywhere, they generally mean the third-level underground in a parking garage or an elevator shaft. They don´t usually mean on top of a mountain in the Sierra Nevada," said Tim Farrar, a satellite-industry consultant. Mr. Farrar said there is certainly a market of a few million people that Mr. Falcone could target, but marketing to them would be challenging. Mr. Falcone says there is a vast global demand for the network he envisions, and it will only grow larger, according to people familiar with his plan.

Mr. Falcone´s plan is to complement existing cellular networks with satellite coverage, and to use new chips that could fit inside affordable, mainstream phones, keeping costs down for consumers. And he is also pursuing nonconsumer uses of the technology, such as communications systems for police, fire and ambulance personnel, the people close to the situation say.

Mr. Falcone scored eye-popping profits in 2007 by betting successfully that mining companies would increase in value and mortgage defaults would soar, helping Harbinger amass some $20 billion in assets. But he stumbled last year along with other hedge funds. Harbinger´s big energy, media and financial holdings lost value, sinking Mr. Falcone´s biggest funds between 23% and 27% on investment declines.

Harbinger´s hedge-fund assets are about $7 billion. Performance has improved this year, with the biggest fund up about 6% through March, according to investors. Harbinger has also made several senior hires this year from such firms as Citadel Investment Group Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

To complete his plan, Mr. Falcone must first gain control of a large amount of radio spectrum. Harbinger already owns just under 50% of SkyTerra LP, a small U.S. company that controls valuable satellite spectrum, and 28% of London-based Inmarsat PLC, which provides maritime, military and aeronautical satellite-communications services.

According to regulatory filings, Mr. Falcone wants to acquire full control of SkyTerra and then combine the two companies. The Federal Communications Commission must sign off on the SkyTerra takeover and merger with Inmarsat, if and when Mr. Falcone does come through with a bid for it. Inmarsat has a market capitalization of about $3.2 billion.

If he is able to gain control of the spectrum, Mr. Falcone could lease out the frequencies to wireless operators, who would run the networks in various countries, selling devices with both satellite and cellphone capabilities. One contender is U.S.-based Leap Wireless International Inc., a small carrier in which Harbinger is also a major investor. Leap views the potential deal as one of several ways to increase its spectrum reserves, according to a person familiar with the situation. If he is unable to build the satellite cellphone business, Mr. Falcone could always try to resell the valuable spectrum for a profit, analysts say.


All data sources are attributed with links to the original insight. The insight is then summarised and, where appropriate, enhanced with additional information.

Source: WSJ.com
MTT insight URL: http://marketingtrendtracker.com/article.aspx?id=3956



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