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May 2003    Feature
a free monthly briefing on the knowledge agenda
No. 73

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Managing editor:
David J. Skyrme


George Kozmetsky:
In Memoriam

Debra M. Amidon

"When the man is the mountain..."

Dr. George Kozmetsky was one of the few mentors I never could outgrow. He was there ahead of us all; and with his courage and conviction, he guided us into the future with extraordinary vision and kindness. I can still remember the day in 1988 when he provided me a stage, instructed me to: "Only talk about the 'new' stuff" - and sat in the front row with an open notebook and pen. In short, he was a prime example of how the 'leaders are learners'! On Wednesday April 30th 2003, George passed on and has gone where I am certain he is now inspiring the angels.

He has been described as "one of the world's truly great entrepreneurs and pioneering champion of global entrepreneurial venturing". Without his leadership Austin, Texas might still be an industrial backwater, compared to the vibrant knowledge-centric economy it is today, with hundreds of IT, software and knowledge-intensive companies emerging from the entrepreneurial business environment that George helped create (see I3 UPDATE/ENTOVATION International News No. 69). Dell is one such company and George was one of its first directors, serving on its board for ten years during its period of early fast growth. Michael Dell writes: "George was a visionary, committed to family, education, community and betterment of the world through technology". Considered Austin's high-tech father, George co-founded Teledyne and the IC2 Institute, an important institute at the University of Texas whose focus is creativity and commercialization. For 15 years he was dean of the business school at the University of Texas at Austin and steered it to a position of national prominence.

Together with his wife Ronya they created the RGK Foundation, now one of the largest and most respected foundations in the US. A recent $6 million gift from the Kozmetsky family has created the Kozmetsky Global Collaboratory (KGC). This is a collaborative venture between IC2 at Austin and Stanford University to sponsor initiatives aimed at stimulating access to shared global prosperity. The program brings together research faculties from each university and provides opportunities for students and faculty to engage in cutting-edge research.

Some of you already know that the new book - 'The Innovation SuperHighway' - is dedicated to George and his equally courageous wife Ronya. Without their support, the book would never would have been written. Joined by other Entovation members F. Javier Carrillo, Lynne Schneider and Darius Mahdjoubi, we held the International book launch at IC2 in in Austin, Texas, when we honored them with this dedication:

"In appreciation for your
inspiration to value intellect,
innovation and international collaboration.

Through your demonstrated leadership,
guiding hands and open hearts,
you have both touched us
in ways to numerous to mention;
and I have grown -
both personally and professionally.

There is no substitute for genuine care,
supporting the road less traveled;
And it has made all the difference."

His quote in the book: "It takes courage as well as wise and lucky leadership to balance short-term, medium-term, and long-term sustainability of a firm. The digital/knowledge industries are ones where walls are coming down between nations, industries, sectors of the economy and between functions of an organization". This says a great deal about the man himself.

George had many honours bestowed on him during his lifetime, including medals for gallantry in World War 2 and the 1993 National Medal for Technology. Following his death, his legacy - in the form of the many organizations he advised and helped to create - will continue to remind us of this extraordinary man and his exceptional talent.

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