Expo 2015: Milan World’s Fair


Milan hosted the Expo 2015 World’s Fair for its second time since 1906.  The fair opened on May 1, 2015 at 10:00 CEST,and the Expo closed on October 31, 2015.  The fair grounds are just northwest of the center of Milan accessible from the Rho Metro Station. The exposition site covers 110 hectares (272 acres) and is expected to attract more than 20 million visitors.  Over 145 countries participated directly in the pavilions.  The theme for the fair was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.”
Several Minnesota delegations attended the fair as groups of MN representatives.  This provided a great opportunity for networking and experiencing the fair.   Some delegations where focused on learning best practices from the Milan organizers and to build partnerships for developing the Minnesota’s plans to host a World’s Fair.  Other groups used the opportunity for international business and networking to accelerate major corporate initiatives.
Learn more at:
See more images of the fair in the gallery

International Trade / MN Governor Trade Mission



One of my product development initiatives at the university was around creating services for supporting international B2B joint ventures and strategic alliances.   We have been doing direct 1:1 education and consulting to corporations directly to support their international business development objectives.    These would be long running engagements providing education, coaching, international networking, building business models,  etc, etc.    It was during this time period that the Governors Trade Mission to Mexico was underway and I was asked to attended. This mission would be from August 9 – 14th and be visiting Mexico City and Guadalajara with multiple meetings in each location.   We also meet with many of the planners and share our current activities and serves to re-imagine what might be possible during a trade mission and how to support the mission directly and the ongoing business afterwards.

We separated the initiative into four distinct phases based on a time horizon.   The first three phases where trade mission centric focusing on the pre, during, and post mission activities.   The four phase would be really be offering these durable business services to the public in an ongoing model to build and continue the international relationships and accelerate the ongoing exchange of business between the regions.
(Image: Activities by time phase)
Pre-Mission Activities
  1. Pre-Mission Webinars:  Drive Awareness & Recruitment (MN/MX) B2B in Mexico Briefing:
  2. Event for Attendees to drive deeper into doing business and exporting to Mexico (MN) Attendee
  3. Profiles:  UMN Created profiles of attendees for pre-mission distribution. (MN/MX)
  4. Joint Fund Raising:  Explore Mission sponsors,  attendees, and interested firms. (MN/MX?)
Trade-Mission Activities
  1. UMN channels will publish a TBD: “International Business with Mexico” Article and highlight the trade mission. (MN)
  2. Host a TBD: “International Business with Minnesota” (MX)
  3. Host B2B Business Development Session (MX)
  4. Provide B2B Assessments (MX)
  5. Host Academic Networking Event in Mexico(MX)
Post-Mission Activities
  1. Joint Press Release (MN/MX)
  2. Publish Activity Report (MN/MX)
  3. On Going Joint Venture Services (MN/MX)
On-going Activiites
  1. Letter from Governor (MX)
  2. UMN Business in Mexico Article (MN)
  3. Host Int. Biz in MN / Emersion Event (MN)
  4. B2B Networking Sessions (MN/MX)
  5. International MN/MX B2B Report (MN/MX)
  6. Annual International Report (MN/MX)
  7. Joint Press Release (MN/MX)
( Image services )
The images gives a few examples of services based on timeframes.   Given there is a large number of services available, I would summarize the services portfolio by several major categories that could be use to corporations, academic and government institutions on both sides of an international relationship.
  • Networking: This category of services represents the development and maintenance of two way relationships between the regions.   This is intended to be a proactive effort to have developed networks prior to the need to accelerate the speed at which connections can be made.   This effort also builds various advisory boards in advance to help coach and mentor parties through the process of international opportunities.
  • Marketing:  Regional joint marketing is also a key set of activities to help both regions keep abreast of events,  business partnerships, market trends, etc.    Basic open communication and awareness.
  • Market Profiles:  Data collection on industries, companies, institutions, market trends, political trends, economic trends, etc.
  • Events:  These are planned and reoccurring trade events.   Includes registration and facilitated sessions.
  • Business:  These are deeper services around Strategic Alliances and Joint ventures.   Evaluating partnerships,  strategic plans,  cultural training,  operations models,  communication, investment, etc.
  • Assessments: This is the data and metrics underpinnings of all the other services.   It is measuring all the activity and deals being done to build a base of metrics around time, cost, practices required to do this type of business between the respective regions and the overall impact that portfolio of business has created.
These international services could be used directly to support the trade mission or for any corporation in general looking to build international business opportunities.   The long term goal would for these processes and services to be running on going for all regional business to plug into as they needed to accelerate their international business objectives.    It would also keep the relationships active between Minnesota and other key regions around the globe,  again speeding the ability to network interested businesses in both directions.

US / Australia – American Chamber Event

Hon. John Berry, US Ambassador to Australia
I had the opportunity to attend the American Chamber event with The Hon. John Berry, U.S. Ambassador to Australia.
The event was full and hosted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.   The focus of the event was to discuss American and Australia current relationship and explore opportunities for collaboration and business partnership.
Several US business representatives shared their success stories partnering with Australian companies.   The insights and motives for the partnerships all differed, but each saw strategic gains from their respective business case study they shared.
The speakers are highlighted on the agenda below:
The keynote was from Ambassador John Berry.   He opened with a personal story of his father’s WWII experience with the 1st Marine Division on Gradual Canal and his units deployment to Australia after that campaign.   The story told of the deep US / Australian alliance throughout WWII and set the stage of continued cooperation into today.  As my father also served in the 1st & 3rd Marine Divisions in WWII this was a great opportunity for me to talk with the Ambassador during the networking session of the event.  His presentation also outlined the strong cultural alignment between the two nations and the history of both government and business partnerships.   He commented on the business case studies and how they modeled what was possible.   He also emphasized on how Australia was, in many cases,  a better place for US businesses to begin going global and Australia’s strong ties to business connections in Asia as a good partner to help enter those markets.  Lastly, he emphasized Australia’s interest in investment in the USA.
This was a very strategic meeting for me in terms of making good connections with the both US chamber and trade organizations in both the USA and Australia.   The work I’m doing in developing innovation ecosystems today spans business, government, entrepreneurial and infrastructure investment opportunities.   Already this work is spanning investment partners from the USA, Europe, and Asia,  so the opportunities to build partnerships with Australia is great timing.
See more event images in the gallery

Global Branding Event / Brand Matters @ Carlson School of Management

Brand Matters Event

Entering global markets is can be a large shift in brand strategies for mature brands.    The event opened the door to the conversation by explore ones understanding of the culture your brand was trying to reach.   Brands need to consider that their brand equity at home will not count or transfer at all into the next global market.   Having a brand or launching a new brand that is not known may be a better starting point vs. any negative perceptions foreign cultures may have of corporate identities abroad.  In either case there is a large chasm of trust to be crossed.   Many cultural studies focus on basics of symbols, colors, and general beliefs.   While these are critical starting points to begin to understand the differences in cultural values and perceptions it only scratches the surface of understand the marketing landscape.   In many countries the conversation about foreign brands has been underway for quite some time.   Regardless of any accuracy,  foreign stakeholders have been driving the conversation and setting the tone.   Historical stigmas of imperial exploration and colonization still linger in the cultural concision of the population.  Modern day corporate greed splashes across daily headline.   Foreign policies create unfair playing fields for market competition.   So how does a brand overcome global challenges such as these?

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