Wander through the excellent Science Museum in London, and you’ll see inventions that transformed history. LikePuffing Billy, one of the world’s first steam locomotives; or Charles Babbage’s difference engine, a Victorian predecessor to the modern computer; or penicillin, the wonder drug that revolutionized the treatment of disease. These marvels from the past still influence our lives today, and are tangible examples of how fearless exploration and entrepreneurship can literally change the world.
To help support the next generation of European entrepreneurs, today Google Ventures is launching a new venture fund, with initial funding of $100 million. Our goal is simple: we want to invest in the best ideas from the best European entrepreneurs, and help them bring those ideas to life.
When we launched Google Ventures in 2009, we set out to be a very different type of venture fund. Startups need more than just capital to succeed: they also benefit from engineering support, design expertise, and guidance with recruiting, marketing and product management. Five years later, we’re working with more than 250 portfolio companies, tackling challenges across a host of industries. For example, the team at Flatiron Health is improving the way doctors and patients approach cancer care, SynapDx is developing a blood test for the early detection of Autism in children, and Clean Power Finance is making solar energy affordable for homeowners.
n June, we celebrated the seventh annual GoogleServe, where employees come together and volunteer in our communities. This year, we doubled GoogleServe from one to two weeks so we could involve more volunteers and serve more community organizations. And it paid off—more than 12,000 Googlers from 70+ offices participated in 800+ projects, making this our biggest GoogleServe to date. Here’s a look at how we gave back to our communities this year:
Making tech more accessible
At our Mountain View headquarters and in Hyderabad, India, Googlers volunteered in three SocialCoding4Goodevents. Googlers participated in an Accessibility Code Sprint with Benetech’s Global Literacy Program to improveGo Read, a free mobile app for people with visual impairments and reading disabilities. A team of Googlers also worked with Bookshare to write descriptions for nearly 1,400 images in five STEM textbooks, making charts, graphs, and diagrams more accessible to blind and visually impaired students.
At our Mountain View headquarters and in Hyderabad, India, Googlers volunteered in three SocialCoding4Goodevents. Googlers participated in an Accessibility Code Sprint with Benetech’s Global Literacy Program to improveGo Read, a free mobile app for people with visual impairments and reading disabilities.
Yesterday, Germany won their fourth world championship, and, over the course of the last month, the world watched them do it—in Brazil, in bars and living rooms around the world, on their phones and laptops and tablets. This World Cup was the most digital, most connected, and most searched global event we’ve seen to date. There were more than 2.1 billion tournament-related searches on Google, many of which we shared on our trends hub.
Looking at the trends from each match, you’ll see some topics that you’d expect to catch the world’s attention, such as top players and highly-anticipated matches. But who would have guessed that there were 10x more searches in the U.S. for the World Cup than for the NBA Playoffs? Or that Clint Dempsey, American soccer star who also has a rap single, had 2x more search interest than Jay-Z? Or that after Ángel di María’s divine goal against Switzerland, he netted 4x more global searches than his fellow countryman, Pope Francis?
Over the past few months, we’ve had the chance to talk to businesses all over the country and hear stories of how they’ve become successful. For many, it’s pretty simple: the Internet. The web is helping businesses and communities across the U.S. to grow and succeed. In fact, last year Google’s search and advertising tools helped provide $111 billion of economic activity for more than 1.5 million businesses—advertisers, publishers and nonprofits—across the U.S.
Take Go2marine, a boat supply company located on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington State. Because of their remote location, bringing traffic to their website using Google AdWords plays an important role in their ability to sell their 250,000+ boat supplies to customers in 176 countries. When it’s winter in the U.S., they rely on customers located in other parts of the world where it’s boating season, with the web bringing them business from any place, in any season.
There will be obstacles to overcome (like the conventional wisdom of engineering). But whoever gets it done will help change the future of electricity. A smaller inverter could help create low-cost microgrids in remote parts of the world.
These days, if you’re an engineer, inventor or just a tinkerer with a garage, you don’t have to look far for a juicy opportunity: there are cash prize challenges dedicated to landing on the moon, building a self-driving car, cleaning the oceans, or inventing an extra-clever robot. Today, together with the IEEE, we’re adding one more: shrinking a big box into a little box.
Of course, there’s more to it than that. Especially when the big box is a power inverter, a picnic cooler-sizeddevice used to convert the energy that comes from solar, electric vehicles & wind (DC power) into something you can use in your home (AC power). We want to shrink it down to the size of a small laptop, roughly 1/10th of its current size. Put a little more technically, we’re looking for someone to build a kW-scale inverter with a power density greater than 50W per cubic inch. Do it best and we’ll give you a million bucks.
Kenneth Shinozuka, from New York City, wants to help people with Alzheimer’s Disease, like his grandfather. Kenneth developed a small, wearable sensor to be worn on his grandfather’s foot. When pressure is applied to the sensor, it alerts his family via a mobile app, which allows them to monitor when his grandfather is on the move. By monitoring this behavior, Kenneth hopes to understand the causes of wandering brought on by Alzheimer’s, and to ultimately find a way to mitigate or prevent it.
Samuel Burrow, from the U.K., wants to improve the environment by reducing pollution. Taking inspiration from the chemical used in sunscreen, Samuel created a special coating that reduces waste chemicals in the air when subjected to ambient light. And Cynthia Sin Nga Lam, from Australia, thinks everyone deserves access to clean water and created an eco-friendly and economical device to do just that.
These are just a few examples of the 15 incredible projects we’ve named as the global finalists for 2014 Google Science Fair. This is our fourth time hosting the competition as a way to encourage the next generation of scientists and engineers. From Russia to Australia, India to Canada, this year’s finalists (ages 13-18) are already well on their way to greatness. See all 15 projects on the Google Science Fair website.
Would you turn down a free trip to Hawaii? Julio and Iselle aren’t. The two hurricanes are barreling towards the islands, bringing 90 mph winds, flash floods and hordes of searches with them. If Iselle makes landfall, she’ll be the first hurricane to hit the Big Island since 1950. Julio, like the tag-a-long younger brother, is right on Iselle’s tail. You can review tips on how to stay safe during hurricane season here.
A Hawaiian hurricane isn’t the only trouble brewing in the air. Searchers had a virtual panic attack when Facebookwent down for a couple hours last Friday. In a state of shock, some people even called the police to assist with their social media emergency. Meanwhile, a toxin called microcystin is contaminating the waters in parts of Ohio, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to stockpile bottled water and look for answers on the Internet.
But there’s only one thing that can distract us from the craziness of real life… and that’s the sheer absurdity of reality TV. Viewers and searchers tuned in to watch the premiere of the Bachelor in Paradise, an elimination-style show where contestants compete for love. This is probably not what Cervantes meant when he wrote that all’s fair in love and war.