bob schukai

Today’s kids are tomorrow’s innovators

Apps For Good

This is my fifth year of working with the UK-based Apps for Good program, and it’s incredible to see how the program has grown from a handful of schools and perhaps a hundred or so kids to hundreds of schools and tens of thousands of students taking part just a few short years later. The evolution has been fun to watch, with many significant lessons learned.

  1. When I first was asked to serve as an ambassador for the London Tech City project, I worked with the British government to help revise the school ICT curriculum. Within three years, we saw a complete overhaul in England, so now, every child entering school today will know how to program in at least two languages by the time they are 11! Again…what were you doing at 11?


Innovative ideas are not solely from the big cities


It has been couple weeks since the Apps for Good Awards ceremony, and I wanted to write a few thoughts in the aftermath of a wonderful day and school term.

Nearly 23,000 kids, from 700+ academic institutions completed the Apps for Good course this year, and 18 of the very best teams were selected as finalists for the Apps for Good Awards London. Each team that was in the Awards finals experienced the same thing that a startup faces: how does one convey an idea clearly and convincingly in order to get funded, which in this case, is the funding to have your app built and put into the Google Play or iTunes store.

I don’t personally work for Apps for Good, but I feel as if this is my other “work family.” I’ve seen this grow from a small startup idea into something that has broadened my own view of the world.  And it is a great reminder of something we all need to keep in mind. The diversity of our schools and children breeds incredible diversity in ideas and teams which come to the finals. Can anyone genuinely believe that a school from Wick, Scotland has produced winners for three consecutive years? Try to get to Wick sometime from London: you fly to Inverness and drive for 2+ hours or take a flight via Edinburgh. It’s not easy. Wick is about as far away from London as you can go in the United Kingdom, in a very remote part of the country. And yet, they win. Innovative ideas are not solely from the big cities but can come from small communities like Wick. (more…)

Cape of great hope

Trading Africa Summit

Earlier this month, I had a chance to go to Cape Town and take part in the 4th Annual Trading Africa Summit driven by our team in South Africa. Over 350 people attended the event which used our Convene app – and featured sessions led by Keith Nichols, David Craig, Ken Olisa, Sneha Shah, and many others. I was proud to lead a panel on innovation in the financial services space which not only was a lot of fun, but also featured an incredibly engaged audience. (more…)

Bob Schukai on technology trends in 2015

Bob Schukai, head of advanced product innovation at Thomson Reuters, discusses technology trends he sees in 2015.

Read more of Bob’s posts.

Apps for Good launch – Flying high again


About four years ago, I first met Iris Lapinski, the CEO of Apps for Good at The Trampery – a shared workspace in London for startups. She had just gotten AfG off the ground with a couple of schools and maybe one hundred kids in the program. This year, the program is serving nearly 24,000 kids in 571 schools across the United Kingdom. From those humble beginnings, this has been a fantastic ride, and we’re now working with the AfG team on its international expansion plans.

Thomson Reuters again hosted the launch party for the 2014 winners at our London Canary Wharf office on Thursday, 5 February, an event that I personally would never want to miss. Seven apps were launched, including the two category winners we sponsored – ShoreCast which provides surf conditions and user ratings on places near you and I’m Okay, an app designed to provide authoritative information and content for LGBTQ teens. For the first time, there was a mix of apps available on either Android or iOS that you can download here. The page also contains links to apps developed by the kids since 2010. You’ll see remarkable progress and change in the ideas and quality of execution, which just shows how far the program has come in four years. Be sure to check out Pocket Money Pig – an app developed by 10/11 year olds! These boys were outstanding, and it’s pretty neat to think that kids that young have a published app in the Google Play store! (more…)

The tremendous impact of mobile

2015 Gates Annual Letter

One of the things I love reading is the annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It coincides nicely with what seems to be lots of stories on where our planet will be in 2030 (ed note: Like our series on the World in 2025!). This one does exactly the same, placing a huge emphasis on the impact of mobile technology over the next 15 years.

The report looks at four core areas: health, farming, banking, and education. Every one of these areas will be touched by mobile technology, and the Gates report specifically highlights the impact on the latter three. Simply take a look at the pictures the report uses for farming and banking: (more…)

Eagan in January


There isn’t much that can get me to come to Eagan during January. I love my team here, and I love the good people that work in our Eagan campus, but I can’t say one good thing about a 3pm afternoon temperature and forecast that looks like this! Suffice it to say, it’s been REALLY cold for my normal, outdoor runs!

I receive a daily email newsletter from Quartz, and one of the stories that caught my eye – you guessed it – was all about culture and Amazon. It’s actually quite amazing how many stories these days focus so much on this one little word – culture (ed: In fact, Philip Brittan has written a whole series on the subject). It’s a good thing to take stock of as we prep our 2015 goals and objectives and think about the behaviors we are going to need to demonstrate. (more…)

Peeking Into The Future

Happy New Year to everyone and welcome to 2015! I hope everyone had the chance to enjoy the holidays with friends and family!

This week, the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is in full swing, giving us a preview of exciting new technologies that will impact our personal and professional lives. We have a couple people from the Advanced Product Innovation team in attendance, and I’m looking forward hearing about their experiences next week. Ultra high definition television, the Internet of Things, wearable technology, and in-car solutions are already being showcased at the start. USA Today covers CES quite nicely, and they already have up some great pictures of cool tech on display. One great thing I picked up already was an announcement from the Volkswagen group that it plans to support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in its cars beginning this year. It is noteworthy, because to my knowledge, this is the first car manufacturer to publicly declare implementation of both protocols.

2015 promises to be another exciting year for personal technology. Just before the end of the year, I was in New York for a couple days and had my first chance to use my iPhone 6 to open my hotel room door. The Element Hotel near Times Square is one of the properties that the Starwood Hotels Group is using to rollout this feature. It’s really a cool feature. I’ve previously registered my iPhone for their keyless entry program, and you can see how it looks in the first picture when active. The second picture shows you how the door is then unlocked. A full list of the hotels supporting this along with instructions on using the app are provided here. (more…)

I know the feeling


I’ve currently been on an extended trip through Europe, but last week, one of the biggest news stories was the landing of the Philae probe on a comet. It marks the first time that we have been able to achieve such a feat. The entire mission has been one series of innovations after another, and personally, I’m so happy for the engineers in the European Space Agency (ESA) command center who have seen their dream become a reality.

Although the Philae probe has now gone into a hibernation status due the inability of the probe to recharge its batteries, it has accomplished a number of key objectives including sending pictures back from the comet and sending science data from all of its on-board instruments including the COSAC – the Cometary Sampling and Composition experiment – which drilled into the comet in search of molecular building blocks that may have kickstarted life on planets like Earth.

I was reading the Sunday Times, and it had a great article written by Bryan Appleyard titled “One Giant Step.”  I genuinely appreciated his comments about this project for a number of reasons. Have a read of this quote: (more…)

Billy Idol, The Sex Pistols, and innovation

Well, if that title didn’t get you to read this blog post, I doubt anything I write will!

I’m currently reading Billy Idol’s new autobiography called Dancing With Myself, and it sort of hit me while that this might make for an interesting piece. I’ve made it a habit to read a lot of musician biographies/autobiographies including Jim Morrison, Keith Richards and Sammy Hagar, but what has really struck me about this one is the era in which Idol arrived onto the music scene. Prior to doing his solo bit, that pretty much everyone of the MTV era knows, he was in a band called Generation X that released their first single in 1977. You had a lot of factors all coming together at the same time to impact the music scene, but most notably in England, you saw a lot of social strife and economic problems. All of this really culminated in 1978-1979 with what was called the “Winter of Discontent” where widespread union strikes effectively shut down significant pieces of the economy over pay and work hours.

billy idolWhen you have people that feel like there is no future or opportunity, it’s no surprise that the punk scene emerged as a creative outlet to express rage at what was going on. Bands like The Clash and the Sex Pistols put out some really hardline messages like “London’s Burning” and “Anarchy In The UK,” and Idol was a part of that scene. No hint of subversion here – lyrics in both of those songs were in your face.

Whether you like their music or the message, what the bands and youth of Britain wanted was better opportunity, change, and even – one might argue – innovative thinking from those in charge. As a standalone concept, punk rock was a radical departure from the music of the 60s and even the mainstream 70s rock music with a highly charged political message against the status quo. Punk even struggled to get its message out, because no one wanted to open up their clubs for these bands. (more…)