February 2021 Newsletter


Engineering serendipity: When does knowledge sharing lead to knowledge production?

View a quick explainer on some new research by LISH and Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard researchers Jacqueline N. Lane, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaule, Eva Guinan and Karim R. Lakani. Click here to read the full paper


A Love Connection: Startup Advisor Series

The role of advisors has evolved and customer, market, finance and operational experience is more important than ever. The most valuable advisors have the right domain experience, and can see the mission, vision and goals at each stage.

As a startup founder, how do you know if you have found the advisor for you? And as someone seeking to advise a startup, how do you know which startup may be the best fit? 

We plan on answering those questions and more with our three-part webinar series featuring founder and former CEO of Black Duck Software, Doug Levin. Black Duck was acquired by Synopsys in 2017. Levin will provide key insights on how startups and those seeking to advise startups should approach selection, connection and the on-going relationship.

Register Now!

Are you a practitioner with an interest in AI? Register to attend our next session in our AI in the Enterprise Series! 

Register for our upcoming session with Allie Miller from Amazon Web Services from 11:00AM - 12:00PM ET on March 24, 2021. 

Register Now!

Missed an AI in the Enterprise Session? No problem, catch up now! 

Self Publish
Looking for a way to distribute your white paper, working paper or report? Submit your resource (e.g. white paper, report, working paper, presentation or video) to the Innovation Science Guide where it will be published after a short review. Submit here

NASA Challenges 

Water America's Crops Challenge 

For more than 100 years, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has brought water to arid lands to support agriculture and economic development. Today, Reclamation’s 8,000 miles of canals deliver water across the Western U.S., serving over 30 million customers and 10 million acres of farmland that produce 60% of the nation's vegetables and 25% of its fruits and nuts. As water is conveyed by a canal from the source to customers, some water losses (such as from evaporation) are inevitable. However, a much more significant and preventable type of loss is seepage of water from a canal into the ground. Seepage represents the most significant cause of water loss in canals, reducing the efficiency of water deliveries and increasing costs for Reclamation and its customers. Moreover, if not adequately addressed, seepage can result in a canal failure over the long term. The Water America’s Crops Challenge seeks to incentivize new approaches to minimizing seepage in canals that are cost-effective for the farmers and communities that Reclamation serves. The challenge is designed to accelerate development of new solutions and validate performance on criteria that will be critical for field testing and future deployment.

Partner Organization: United States Bureau of Reclamation

Awards: $360,000 in total prizes

Open Date: February 4, 2021

Close Date: June 24, 2021

For more information, visit:

LAANC UI Redesign Challenge 

The Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system is used by Air Traffic Managers (ATMs) to monitor and respond to authorization requests for operations of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The existing interface was not designed to optimize user experience. It does not allow the flexibility the ATMs need to complete their tasks efficiently. The Federal Aviation Administration is considering a potential redesign. Participants are tasked with proposing a fresh UI that takes advantage of current technology and best practices to give users an improved experience.

Partner Organization: Federal Aviation Administration

Awards: $30,500 in total prizes

Open Date: January 7, 2021

Close Date: April 23, 2021

Frequency: Once

For more information, visit:


Is A/B Testing Effective? Evidence from 35,000 Startups
Recent work argues that experimentation is the appropriate framework for entrepreneurial strategy. We investigate this proposition by exploiting the time-varying adoption of A/B testing technology, which has drastically reduced the cost of experimentally testing business ideas. This paper provides the first evidence on how digital experimentation affects a large sample of high-technology startups using data that tracks their growth, technology use, and product launches. Despite its prominence in the business press, relatively few firms have adopted A/B testing tools. However, among those that do, we find increased performance on several critical dimensions, including page views, code changes, and new product features. These results are robust to our use of instrumental variables and synthetic control models, where we leverage Google’s launch of a new A/B testing tool. Our results also show that the value of A/B testing increases over time and is positively related to tail outcomes, with adopting firms both scaling and failing faster. Our results inform the emerging literature on entrepreneurial strategy and illustrate the growing importance of digitization and data-driven decision-making. 
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Engineering serendipity: When does knowledge sharing lead to knowledge production?
We investigate how knowledge similarity between two individuals is systematically related to the likelihood that a serendipitous encounter results in knowledge production. We conduct a field experiment at a medical research symposium, where we exogenously varied opportunities for face‐to‐face encounters among 15,817 scientist‐pairs. Our data include direct observations of interaction patterns collected using sociometric badges, and detailed, longitudinal data of the scientists' postsymposium publication records over 6 years. We find that interacting scientists acquire more knowledge and coauthor 1.2 more papers when they share some overlapping interests, but cite each other's work between three and seven times less when they are from the same field. Our findings reveal both collaborative and competitive effects of knowledge similarity on knowledge production outcomes. 
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