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Last Day: 4th Congreso Iberoamericano de Innovacion Tecnologica

Last Day: 4th Congreso Iberoamericano de Innovacion Tecnologica

| On 20, Nov 2009

Ellen Domb

It is hard to convey the elation and enthusiasm of the audience at this conference, particularly for the student papers.  Some are elegant “classroom” exercises, and some are real projects done for real industry, and some are entrepreneurial ventures where the students are both the engineers and the business developers.    It is a great joy for all of us to see the spread of TRIZ into the next generations, and to see the students’ willingness to learn new ways of thinking at the beginning of their professional careers.  

Christopher Nikulin’s second paper explained a model for design  of new products based in TRIZ, using the value in the market as the decision criterion.   The multi-window method was used in an example of developing low-carbohydrate pasta for a student project that  is now being commercialized.  Other projects being developed are:

  • plastic bag recycler

  • uninterruptible power supply

  • easy to install vehicle covers

  • golf cart brake for hillside use

  • hoist system using the axle of a 4 wheel drive truck

  • magnetic car roof rack

Rodrigo Silva did not “give a paper.”  His passionate exhortation to the conference could be called a sermon or a call to arms or a harrangue, but not a paper!   His topic was the philosophy of value and innovation, and he addressed himself primarily to the students, telling them that they should focus their careers on adding value to the world, not on getting a job, or even getting a good job. 
Edgardo Cordova demonstrated that TRIZ itself is a system, and evolves as a system.  He gave us a brief guided tour of the spiral of evolution through 6 stages, culminating in the merger of TRIZ into business and design.   There’s a lot to reflect on in this model, and he has promised me an English version to share with our readers in the near future.

After lunch, I showed the group that the first day’s report was already in the TJ Commentary.  The conference audience appreciated seeing themselves in The TRIZ Journal “live” during the conference.   I encouraged the faculty to make the TJ available to their students and colleagues!
Generation of Energy Alternatives was presented by  Alvarao Vera.   He pointed out that Chile’s long shoreline is a natural resource that can be used to generate energy, and reviewed the state of the art of European, US, and Japanese wave and tide powered electrical systems.  They selected opportunities where TRIZ could help make concepts more applicable to Chilean deployment.   This was not theory – – we saw pictures of the prototype and the cold developers in a small boat leaving the large ship for real open-ocean testing.   He gave credit for their success to the interdepartmental nature of the team, with knowledge of how to get financing and organize the project, as well as all the technical disciplines.  See for more of the story, and new projects in air, water, and solar, in Chile and Guatemala, sponsored by business, the UN, and entrepreneurial initiative.  

Srs. José García Torres  and José Rangel Cordero from  Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico demonstrated the application of invisible resources in TRIZ, specifically for optimizing the use of fuel for internal combustion engines.  (And they started with my example of using resources to save the passengers on the Titanic!)  They focused on Internal combusion because of air pollution, and the extreme smog problems in both Sangtiago and Mexico DF.   Two different improvements have improved efficiency by 12% and by 30%, using resources from the air, which is frequently an invisible (overlooked) resource, and from the momentum of the moving vehicle.  Additional catalysis may increase the efficiencies even more.    An added benefit may be reduction of maintenance.  After the paper there was discussion of the total power balance, and the source of the energy for hydrolisis of the air. 

The following paper by Germán Guerra, also from the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in Mexico was a complete change of pace.  He introduces children to TRIZ by means of a card game incorporating ideas from the 40 principles.   The cartoons are funny, drawn by German (and he says he’s not DaVinci.)  The audience laughed at the cartoons of Innobot (a robot) and SuperTRIZ (a caped hero) as they demonstrated the concepts in terms that children understand. Segementation was cutting a cake, and Asymmetry was a very fat lady with a very skinny man.   His personal favorite was  universality:   a microwave oven with a cooking surface, because the first time he tried this with 10 year old students, they each had their own examples:   a bicycle used as a clothes rack, a backpack used as a pillow.   The energy that he got from working with young children was communicated to the audience, to encourage them to take risks of leaving the comfort zone of engineering for the risky world of children.
The afternoon keynote talk by Sergei Ikovenko returned us to the world of technical problem solving, focusing on applying TRIZ to Patent Strategies.   The audience appreciated his sharing personal history of taking Altshuller’s seminars several times, and then joining the research group.   Sometimes he had personal interests, such as patent law, that Altshuller did not share, so he worked on both his assigned research and his personal interests.   Sergei told us that the examples in Altshuller’s books are very clear as illustrations, but they are not practical, because Altshuller was interested in the clarity of the teaching, not in the business of making and selling products.    When he came to the US, he returned to his interest in patents, because there was great interest in the economic advantage of innovation.

For those who are not familiar with patent law, Sergei gave an excellent brief review of major strategies, and showed us some of his research on the TRIZ methods that are most helpful for each of the major strategies.   For examples:  patent circumvention does not create the next generation product.  What it does is legally avoid violating competitive patents, so, with the fewest possible changes, you have the freedom to operate.   The safe, straightforward way to do this is not to add components (since you will be in the zone of dependent patents) but to subtract them.  Sergei gave a brief lesson on trimming, so that all functions are performed by a simpler system.   His examples are all REAL products, not just patents that exist on paper and an introduction to the intricacies of patent law (doctrine of equivalents, estoppel research) for non-specialists.   The case of the Dior sunscreen that senses the amount of sunlight and adjusts the amount of blocking material, and could be bought in the hotel store, was a great  illustration of a multinational successful product.
 Prof. Noel León  presented work by himself and  Roberto Durán and Eduardo Uresti from TEC in Monterrey, Mexico, that challenged the audience with the concept of genetic algorithms, a form of simulation that makes it possible to test many variations of a design, and, by formalizing the definition of a “good” design, makes it possible to evaluate which alternatives are best, and simulate evolution of design.  (I first heard about this last year at the Guadalajara meeting and have been fascinated by the possibilities.)   They combine TRIZ with genetic algorithms, using the patterns of evolution and principles as the triggers for change algorithms, and the concept of ideality for evaluation.   Noel gave us a historical insight into the development of genetic algorithms, and the parallels between TRIZ concepts and concepts in GA.  They are now extending the genetic analogy to the concept of antibodies to stimulate alternative solutions to problems.

Carlos Contreras presented the work by himself and his colleagues at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogata, Colombia (Srs.: Luz Torres P – Diego Flores H-. – Oscar Castellanos D.) on the production of derivatives of sugar cane, and on development of the markets, which depend on many political factors (regulation, tariffs, etc.)  as well as the technological ones.  

The second report from Colombia was on the management of the process of technology evaluation and assessment in the agricultural industry by Srs.: Aida Fúquene – Diana Ramírez – Oscar Castellanos, presented by Laura Egea.  Extensive research on the search parameters and statistical data was used to develop opportunities for Colombian products.

Jose Vicente from Valencia Spain had the honor and challenge of being the last presenter of the day.  His theme was transition to the supersystem, a primary law of innovation.     Jose had a marvelous global set of examples of products and services for each of the concepts that he discussed.  He illustrated the need to listen to the voice of the customer, but be careful, with the case of Kawasaki’s breakthrough in the world of “wet bikes” that came from recognizing that customers sit on motorcycles, but stand on water skiis, and that hybridizing them would create a large new market.   He illustrated the difficulty of innovation with an extensive list of both products and services where the second company to come to market succeeded, while the innovator did not have the business success.   The audience had great appreciation for this world-wide collection of well-known names (Royal Crown lost to Coca Cola, RIM lost to Apple, Sega lost to both Nintendo and Sony,   DeHavilland lost to Boeing, …)  

Jose used a dramatic, non-technical example of the use of the supersystem:  the new horror movie that was made for US$15,000 and promoted via Facebook, and distributed by “friends” and has now made US$ two hundred million.   The innovation was not the making of the movie, it was using the supersystem instead of the conventional distribution system.   Moving to the technical world, he gave persuasive examples from medical imaging (PET/CT) and from renewable energy resources, and showed how the concepts apply to the business world as well as the technical world.   The conference ended on a high point with the decision scene from the movie “the Matrix.”   Thanks, Jose!

Prof. Sariego concluded the conference by asking the keynote speakers to each say a few remarks, then we took lots of pictures, hugged each other, and promised to meet again.