55th R&D 100 Awards & 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference

54th R&D 100 Awards Dinner

The Finalists for the 55th R&D 100 Awards were announced in August. The finalists include a number of the premier research laboratories and known inventive companies from around the globe, along with a number of smaller up-and-coming companies.


The 2017 R&D 100 Awards Finalists

National Lab finalists from the USA include:  Sandia, Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, MIT Lincoln Labs, NASA Langley, NASA Glenn, Brookhaven, Idaho National, Pacific Northwest, Argonne, and Los Alamos.  Taiwan’s ITRI (Industrial Technology Research Institute), a perennial winner, has multiple finalist products.  If you are not aware of ITRI, give them a look.

Inventive Company finalists include:  Siemens, Hitachi, Boston Scientific, Dow Chemical, Dow Corning, PPG, IBM, Tektronix, Tupperware, Illumina, Battelle, Rust-Oleum, GM, General Cable, Southwire, PerkinElmer, and Ametek.

It is not really fair for me to cherry pick from the finalist list, but American Standard jumped out.  They have a finalist product we can all understand, the “ActiClean Self-Cleaning Toilet.”  Buckle-up for that.  Coulson, a Canadian company, has also submitted its new “Coulson Ice Blaster” product which is likely to secure a place in the industrial cleaning market.  It cleans with ice and you just wipe away the water.  As well, there are a host of 3D/rapid prototyping, MEMS, and Micro finalist products.  And, there is a “smart footwear” product for modern cities from a collaborative effort between the National Universities of Taiwan and Taipei.  All in all, it is a mind boggling range of inventions and innovations competing for the 55th R&D 100 Awards.

Three years ago, R&D Magazine switched their approach.  Finalists used to be announced in advance of the awards event.  Now, there is a great deal of suspense as companies don’t know if they won until their name is called at the Awards Dinner.  This year, that will be Friday evening November 17.  The winners will be published by R&D Magazine shortly after the Awards Dinner concludes.


3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference

Also three years ago, R&D Magazine decided that it made sense to produce a conference associated with the Awards Dinner and I became involved.  Last year, my two presentations were rated one and two and resulted in the honor of being asked to help develop the program for the third year.

The 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference will be held Thursday/Friday November 16/17, in advance of the Awards Dinner on Friday evening.  After being at Caesar’s Palace the first year, and then the Gaylord National Convention Center in DC last year, this year’s conference and awards dinner will be at Walt Disney’s Swan Resort in Orlando.

The agenda is packed.  There are 28 speakers  The two keynotes are Jeff James of the Disney Institute and Scott Kirsner of Innovation Leader.  Scott will open-up the conference Thursday morning with a talk on “Perils, Pressures and Productivity: How R&D Needs to Reposition Itself.”  R&D Magazine will also be repeating its “Technology Transfer Forum” panel which has been a big draw the first two years.

My presentation this year will be on “Optimizing R&D Performance Through Metrics.”  Award finalists and conference-only participants are quite attentive to the sessions.  Some of the most capable innovators in the world travel long distances for this event, and they seriously engage.

Goldense Breakthrough Innovation Presentation

Above is a look from last year at a packed room for my presentation on “10 Breakthrough Innovation Techniques.”  The rooms are packed for just about every topic and the Q&A is fairly intense.


The Global R&D Funding Forecast – The Year Ahead

One of the highlights of the conference, which was simply a published report in the years before the conference began, is Tim Studt’s “Global R&D Funding Forecast.”  Tim was the Managing Editor of R&D Magazine for some thirty years until two years ago.  Now, in his not so retired retirement, Tim continues to produce this annual gem.  There is not a better source for “what is being spent where” on R&D.  A long-time colleague, GGI has used Tim’s reports in our executive education classes for years.  It is wonderful to be able to hear Tim present the Global R&D Funding Forecast and to be able to ask questions.  This presentation alone is worth the entire value of the conference.

The 2018 Global Funding Forecast will be presented in draft form at the end of the day on Thursday November 16, right before the conference reception.  The final Forecast will come out in December 2017.  If you are curious, here are the links to the 2017 Global Funding Forecast and the 2016 Global Funding Forecast.  I’ll add that macro changes in global spending and the repositioning of countries and industries becomes clear when one takes reports that are 2-4 years apart and compares the charts such as the bubble chart below (provided here in black and white to motivate you to get the full color report directly from R&D Magazine.)

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast

The rise of China, the emergence of the Scandinavian countries as global innovation leaders, and the decline of former innovation leaders could all be foreseen by relatively straightforward comparative analysis of these Funding Forecasts.


A Good Use of Time

If your schedule can accommodate it, the 3rd Annual R&D 100 Conference would be a good use of time on November 16-17 for anyone involved in innovation and invention.  If you have never been to an R&D 100 Awards Dinner, everyone should attend one these eye-popping ceremonies during their career.  There is nothing like it.




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The Six Departments of Innovation

When this “Six Departments of Innovation” article was posted to the Disruptive Innovation Group on LinkedIn, it created quite a stir.  This is a great group!!  It is actively moderated and many people regularly participate.  Some of the comments will turn your head.


LinkedIn DI Group Comments

I believe (or at least am under the impression) that corporates have by and large knowingly replaced in-house efforts to create new markets with acquisitions under the heading corporate venture capital.”

Oh my, is organic innovation dead?

I’ve seen reports of macroeconomic indicators that DI and innovation generally are down. Number of startups has declined. Little change of dominant incumbents in several sectors.

Oh my, is organic innovation passe?

Decline in patents is understandable given that within the US the environment has generally turned hostile to small inventors, with larger companies seemingly able to infringe with impunity. Furthermore, within the EU there is a drive to enshrine the German code commercial secrecy laws into European wide statue. Thus a commercially secret can be effectively protect and such have a lifespan far in excess that of a patent. With the EU Trade Secrets and Confidential Business Information Directive, EU2016/943, confidentiality agreements and contracts of employment become a more viable method of protecting intellectual property, especially for processes. As such new these new innovations do not make it into the public domain, and superficially innovation declines, but the reality is the innovation is still there but not put into the public domain via the publication of a patent.

Oh my, are some of the historical indicators that measure innovation changing?


Thoughts on DI Group Comments

Well, to my thinking, Organic Innovation has definitely taken several hits.

Yes, Open Innovation is now another source of inventions and innovations.  And, it should remain that way.  OI is a good thing.  But, too much OI results in a degradation of both internal functional competencies and internal core competencies.  Let me use a famous company that we all know as an example.  P&G went “whole hog” into OI around 2005.  An HBR article by the CEO at the time cited that some 50% of all innovations were coming from OI.  Three years later he retired.  Within a few years, P&G was underperforming and he came back as CEO.  Now, a dozen years later, after OI became a/the priority, Trian Group is pulling an activist shareholder move that will play out some time in 2017.  Trian talks about revitalizing an underperforming P&G and improving shareholder returns.  It is hard for me to say what’s real without lots of detailed research.  But, at 50,000 feet, this is unusual for P&G in my lifetime.  I conclude that a 50% reliance on OI is too great.

Yes, DI is down.  Robert Cooper (who is the creator of Stage-Gate®) continues to do great research.  In my article, there is a chart from Dr. Cooper’s research indicating that investment in “new-to” is down 30-43% depending on the category of new-to.  Instead, available monies were allocated to product line additions, extensions, and improvements.

Yes, people are changing the way they manage IP.  That was borne-out in GGI’s 2014 research which indicated that Trade Secrets, Company Proprietary, and the like are getting more attention.  As well, the change the US Patent Laws a couple years back has definitely affected Makers.  And, Unicorns are taking too great a share of available VC monies even though the VC community is now global and more total money is available.  The “little guy” is now at a disadvantage relative to big companies.  But, the premise of this comment is that “registered and/or guarded IP” define both inventions and innovations.  It seems to me that the subject of innovation is much larger than what is registered or guarded.



The truth is that innovation is down, and has been since 2001.  I’ll make three points.

First, recessions cause structural cross-industry pull back of risky items in the pipeline.  When the economy returns to strength, there is up to a five year lag before company pipelines again reflect a “normal percentage” of risky investments.  So, the 2001 recession was over in 2003.  Add five years.  By 2008 pipelines were starting to look normal again.  But, a year later, noting time-to-market is 3-5 years for most new-to products, the market crashed before the new momentum really got going.  Now, after the extended Great Recession, pipelines are just starting to get going again.

Second, there are better measures of innovation than registered and/or guarded IP.  Return-On-Innovation, Return-On-Capital, Return-On-Equity, New Product Sales, New Product Profits, and Market Share Growth will all generally be better indicators.

Third, Wall Street has never really respected nor valued Open Innovation as much as it values Organic Innovation.  As sexy and exciting as OI is, if I were in charge of maximizing shareholder value, I would not throw the Organic Baby out with the bath water.

That’s why I wrote this article. The world is likely entering its first sustained period of economic growth since the Millennium.  This is a great time to take a serious look at the pipeline and perhaps place a few bets on more risky investments than has been the norm for a dozen years.


The Six Departments of Innovation [Machine Design – June 2017] discusses six innovation organizations that exist in most companies, and explores their relative merits to produce results across the range of innovation initiatives.




TITLE:  Measuring Product Development Productivity & Performance

WHEN:  October 3-4, 2017

WHERE:  The Moller Centre, University of Cambridge, UK

MORE INFO:  Brochure




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TRLs, MRLs, IRLs, SRLs, PRLs: An Ecosystem of Readiness-Level Indicators

The technology boom of the late 1990s, the accumulated annual doubling of computing processing power and storage, and the rapid growth of the internet achieved a critical mass shortly after the Millenium.  All of a sudden, a myriad of new possibilities became available to the designers of products and systems.  These possibilities most challenged the designers of mission-critical and life-or-death systems, products and industries where Murphy’s Law creates catastrophic problems.


Ten Years To Become A Process

If things came together in the early 2000s, that means there was a whole bunch of activity in the preceding decade that then gave rise to the boom and next-level capabilities.  Process-ware always lags technology and invention.  Companies don’t know what type of process best optimizes new capabilities until they have achieved a representative sample of experiences, then comes the process.  It is no surprise that a Technology Readiness Level assessment methodology emerged after the boom.


Ten Years To Become Widely Adopted

Its usage rapidly spread across the world.  Globalization was accelerating in that same time period and many international companies began doing business together.  Since 2010, hundreds of renditions of the Technology Readiness Levels figure below (a classical version) have existed, some in the public sector and many private copyrighted versions.


Type “Technology Readiness Levels Images” into a search engine and you are sure to find a public version that has been adapted for your needs.


A Fleshed-Out Body of Knowledge

With so many countries and industries using and refining the methodology, it was also no surprise that a family of methodologies arose to assure end-to-end management across the places that readiness applied.  Practitioners effectively voted that “readiness assessment” was a good idea.

• Technology Readiness Levels [TRLs]
• Manufacturing Readiness Levels [MRLs]
• Interface Readiness Levels [IRLs]
• System Readiness Levels [SRLs]
• People Readiness Levels [PRLs]

And the approach enabled government, defense, systems contractors, and complex systems industries to have natural places to approve, withhold, or kill funding.  And off they went.


Getting The 80-20 Benefit

Like QFD’s “Four Houses of Quality,” the increasing refinement had decreasing returns.  Most use the First House of Quality and get into the Second House.  TRLs and MRLs are the most-used outside of the mission-critical environments.  The figure below (a classical version) indicates the dovetailing of TRLs and MRLs.

As with TRLs, many analogous MRL images may be found by searching on “Manufacturing Readiness Level Images.”


Readiness Levels Are Far From Being A Yesterday Thing

Sandia National Laboratories’ initiative is among the most active places of ongoing refinement in the USA.   Europe’s Horizion 2020 [H2020] initiative is perhaps the most active place of refinement in Europe.  TRLs and MRLs are highly embedded in many companies and industries throughout Europe and in India; and throughout the US Government and the aerospace and defense industries.


Technology Readiness Levels Are Widely Adopted [Machine Design – May 2017] illuminates the success of TRLs and the family of frameworks that developed around TRLs, including: Manufacturing Readiness Levels [MRLs], Interface Readiness Levels [IRLs], System Readiness Levels [SRLs], and People Readiness Levels [PRLs].





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DFI: Design for IIoT & IoT

When major new industry trends come along that affect product design and development, many companies jump quickly to create an impression of being current and with the trend.  Marketing literature, advertising, social media, and other external-facing documents and images quickly incorporate key words and icons in their messaging.  Product developers and packaging engineers are encouraged to rapidly design-in some concrete evidence of capabilities with regard to the new trend.  While these rapid reactions work well for certain trends, those of a more limited scope or another shade of gray – “open innovation” comes to mind, other trends require a more thoughtful and systematic approach.  The latter is the case for the advent of the Industrial Internet [IIoT] and the Internet of Things [IoT] and their manifestation in the physical and soft products of the future.

Industrial Internet

Thinking IIoT, this train has been on the tracks dating back to the start of designing automated factories.  Industry has been making steady progress on automated materials handling, numerical control, robotics, machine vision, M2M communication, HMI, and numerous other technologies and approaches that will some day allow the lights to be turned out and the humans removed from many factory settings.  What has been in common so far is the focus on the use of these approaches to optimize products for manufacture and delivery.  The new frontier is to not just get leverage for the manufacturer, but to get leverage from a product’s inception that will benefit its customers and users through the product’s end of life.

Internet of Things

Thinking IoT, this train is a couple decades younger.  Its domain is nearly infinite – a blue sky if there ever was one.  And, traditional norms of design that have always focused on the relationship between the customer and the producer will be blown apart as customer expectations transform to expect that all their “internet appliances” will work together and share with each other regardless of the company that designed and produced the appliance.  Before too long, both B2B and B2C customers will come to expect that a product’s history and “experiences” from birth will bring additional value to them as owners of the product.

Design Thinking

The massiveness of the possibilities, and the decisions on the avenues to choose that will maximize customer value while maximizing return to the product/appliance designer, are already challenging product planners and designers.  How many sensors should my product have?  How many transmitters?  Will those sensors/transmitters focus on optimizing producibility or serviceability for the manufacturer, or should they focus on optimizing customer experience or value?  After all, each sensor/transmitter increases a product’s cost which affects its price and margin?  What cloud capabilities must be in place?  Should the cloud capabilities be proprietary, open, or a mix?  What protocols should exist to maximize sensing and transmitting?  With whatever approach we choose, how will we assure that customers have uniform experiences regardless of where the products are used around the globe?  Phew.  Not easy.

Systems Approach

It seems logical that a systems engineering approach will be needed.  Designing capabilities into products in an ad hoc manner seems short-sighted when the range of possibilities is so large.  Just like companies have been concerned for years that their portfolio of product offerings will largely enable “one stop shopping” for customers, companies are soon to be equally concerned that their portfolio of product offerings will enable “one ecosphere” for customers.  Ad hoc design approaches cannot result in competitive advantage product portfolios.





DFI: Design for IIoT & IoT [Machine Design – April 2017] puts forth an initial business model and framework for design thinking that can help to focus and constrain the nearly unlimited choices that face product planners and designers whose products must integrate with the internet and then leverage it.  This 600-word piece is not a solution by any means, but hopefully conveys a vision for how one might approach the mother of all design challenges.






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The 5 Risks of Product Development

The number of risks associated with setting an R&D and product development strategy and budget are large.  Choosing the projects, and the balancing of the resultant company product portfolio, has even more possible risks.  Then, too many to count, come all the risks associated with developing, testing, and launching each project investment. Lastly, there are the commercialization risks before one gets to close the loop; and actually validate if the initial investment decision was correct.  Oh, don’t forget the risks incurred with numerous “corrective actions and changes of the original decision” that are incurred as the project investments make their way from concept to the customer.  Where does one start?

If one looks at the research on Corporate Risk, aka Enterprise Risk Management or ERM, since the era of globalization, a number of studies put “strong practices”  at around 30-40% of industry.  That may be an accurate number for “best process practices,” but when one looks at the confidence in the possible monetary values of risk – or the ability to identify an imminent risk – one gets more sober.  In reality, only a few companies really have a clue about their individual risks or their collective risk.  Now, let’s go back to “R&D and Product Development Risks.”

R&D and Product Development Risk is tough subject to tackle in 600 words.  Rather than parsing the subject too finely and develop a list of ten or twelve and writing a sentence about each, you will hopefully think this is a more cerebral approach to select five “key risk types” and argue that they cover the bulk of the key business risks of product development.

1. Strategic Risk
2. Product Portfolio Risk
3. Technical Risk
4. Supply Chain Risk
5. Talent Risk

“Supply Chain” and “Talent” are new to what one might have described as the historical list.  The list one would have constructed up until the era of globalization and the advent of the software-connected world.

Historically, one would have called out Manufacturing Risk as a top five in the days of vertically integrated industries.  This risk is now subsumed into Technical Risk and Supply Chain Risk (which is also more consistent with industry’s “DevOps” direction).  The other risk that would likely have made the historical top five is Market Risk.  In a global world with product and sometimes technology life-cycles of a few years, Market Risk approaches being synonymous with Technical Risk plus the planned duration of the product in the Product Portfolio Risk.

Meanwhile, the company Supply Chain now accounts for near 80% of product costs; and the influence of that percentage on product and business success or failure. A good deal of a company’s innovation process is now at risk to the outside, including invention, execution, commodity, and currency risk.

As for Talent’s rise to a top five, the importance of Talent has been on a steady rise since the advent of the industrial revolution – and just keeps rising.  It is especially important for R&D and Product Development as it is (still) people that invent products and those people typically account for near 80% of company R&D budgets.  People used to stay with companies for years.  Now, the near stable asset that was reflected in 80% of all costs is one that must constantly be maintained or the consequences are great.

The 5 Risks of Product Development [Machine Design – March 2017] outlines some of the primary parameters of each risk area and the author’s reasons for selecting these five specific topics from among the myriads of risks.



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The 54th R&D 100 Awards & 2nd Annual Technology Conference

54th R&D 100 Awards Dinner

The 54th R&D 100 Awards & 2nd Annual Technology Conference was held on November 2-4, 2016 at the Gaylord National Convention Center, just south of Washington, DC, in Oxon, Maryland.


R&D 100 Awards

The R&D 100 Awards are considered the most globally prestigious awards for invention and innovation.  Each year, for the past 54 years, people arrive to the awards ceremony from all over the world in hopes of winning an “Oscar of Invention.”

The leaders of R&D Magazine, the flagship publication of Advantage Business Media’s 10-magazine Science Group, coordinate the Awards contest and dinner each year. This year, 52 judges from industry, academia, and government reviewed a gazillion submissions and determined there were 275 Finalists.  Then, they culled-out the 100 Winners.  Plus, 15 Special Recognition Awards are part of the ceremony each year.  In all, some one-hundred fifteen winners are presented awards at an engaging black tie dinner event.  Every innovation professional should witness this at least once in their career.

There are six categories:  Analytical/Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical/Materials, Process/Prototyping, Software/Services, and Special Recognition.

Examples of Special Recognition Awards include: Corporate Social Responsibility, Green Tech, and Market Disruptor.

Awards Dinner Agenda


54th R&D 100 Awards Winners

The full list of 2016 R&D 100 Award Winners is available here:  www.rd100conference.com/awards/winners-finalists/year/2016/.

It is hard to keep track of it all during the dinner.  The individual inventions are fascinating and fully captivate your attention, one after the other, and all of a sudden the evening is over.  So, here are some observations at fifty-thousand feet from putting the table from the URL in the preceding paragraph into Excel.

1)  Several organizations won four or more awards.  The following entities may be strong sources of global innovation:  Taiwan’s ITRI, MIT Lincoln Labs, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and “the Dow companies.”

2) Other than Dow, the only other industrial or high-tech company to win more than one award was PPG Industries which won two.

3)  USA’s National Laboratories also deserve comment.  Approximately 30 of the awards went to one of the National Labs or to a dedicated USA government lab.

4)  Not enough industry and high-tech companies are competing.  I’ve recommended to our clients over the years that it is really inexpensive to compete in this contest and one can’t beat the visibility, free marketing, and brand value.  If you are a big company, there is real bang for the buck to be a Finalist – never mind winning.  If you are a start-up, the visibility could accelerate the company by 3-5 years.


Innovator Of The Year Award

The Innovator Of The Year Award, this particular year, recognizes a technology that might benefit us all.  Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and his team are making great progress on growing human organs that work.

Innovator Of The Year Award

The more vessels and “piping” that is in an organ, the harder it is to grow.  But, some major organs (such as the liver) have large areas of very similar cells that perform the function of the organ.  Dr. Atala is now within sight of being able to consistently grow the “mass areas” of several organs, possibly within this decade.


The Global R&D Funding Forecast – The Year Ahead

The 2017 Global Funding Forecast was presented in DRAFT form after the Awards Dinner concluded.  Only the DRAFT form is currently available.  The final version should be out later this month or in early February.

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast

2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast Pie Chart

R&D Magazine is one of the best sources of R&D Spending information presented in a global business context.  Each year, a preview of the coming year is presented.  Historically, this was developed by R&D Magazine in conjunction with Battelle Laboratories.  As of last year, this is now developed in conjunction with the Industrial Research Institute [IRI].  This was a natural alliance as the IRI has been developing a similar set of spending information each year.


2nd Annual Technology Conference

Last year R&D Magazine brainstormed what else they might do, given all the accomplished people that come to the Awards each year, and they decided to wrap a “technology and technology management conference” around the Awards dinner.  The first conference, in conjunction with the awards dinner, was last year.  I was invited to speak at the inaugural conference last year at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

This year, I was invited back to give two presentations.  In my mind however, I didn’t think the location would be as much fun.  But, I was wrong.  The Gaylord National Convention Center is a specially created oasis just south of DC, right on the Potomac River.  Many government and military conferences are held at this giant convention center.  A small community thrives around this all-in-one facility/town, with plenty of entertainment for traveling spouses.

 Oxon Maryland Ferris Wheel

Like McCormick Place in Chicago, this is perhaps another location that professionals should attempt to experience at least once in their career.

The table of contents of my two presentations at the 2nd Annual Technology Conference are directly below.  There was standing-room only on the Breakthrough Innovation topic.  The highlight of the 12 Trends topic was GGI’s roll-out of the upcoming 8th generation of product development processes.  Folks that have been to our presentations will recognize the seven generations slide being projected in the picture below, and I verbally explained the 8th generation.  [The 8th generation was officially published in Machine Design in December 2016.]


10 Techniques to Achieve Breakthroughs Through Innovation

2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Christensen’s work on disruptive innovation. In 2016, GGI researched disruptive, radical, and breakthrough innovation. It was time to take a snapshot of how the body of knowledge had evolved over two decades.

10 Techniques To Achieve Breakthrough Innovation

Goldense Breakthrough Innovation Presentation

Our work found ten distinct breakthrough strategies. They vary greatly, from competing on business-models to specific market or business strategies to technology mastery to commercialization execution. There is no common root to them, except that your company and industry will know they are experiencing a breakthrough from a new or a changing basis of competition.


12 Trends in the Science of Managing R&D and Product Development

After my presentation on Complexity at the 1st Annual Conference, R&D Magazine asked me to build off it and to make recommendations on how to manage in the decade ahead. I presented this work for the first time at a conference in Poland in April 2016 and further refined it for R&D Magazine.

12 Trends In The Science of Managing R&D and Product Development

Goldense 12 Trends Presentation

Directing and overseeing science, materials, technology, software creation-to-commercialization activities is already a good bit more challenging this past decade. Well, not to disappoint, we have another tumultuous decade to go. There will be another reset around 2025, once there are 100 billion connected devices and that becomes the new normal.




GGI’s next Metrics Summit is February 28 to March 2, 2017

A quick note to let you know that our 21st R&D-Product Development Metrics Summit is coming up.

It will be held in Norwood, Massachusetts.

Our conference facility is equidistant between the Providence and Boston airports,

and a comprehensive renovation was completed last fall.

The place is beautiful, the food is great, WI-FI is throughout.

 Metrics Summit 21 Twitter Icon

Our content is stimulating, our discussions are lively,

and the teamwork during the Workshop makes for lasting relationships with colleagues

who deal with many of the same professional issues and challenges.

Please join us.




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