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UC Berkeley Press Release

United Nations and UC Berkeley to host conference on bridging global industrial divide

– A three-day conference will inaugurate a new and unique collaboration between the United Nations and the University of California, Berkeley's Management of Technology program that aims to bring technological solutions to social and economic problems in developing economies.

This kickoff event, "Bridging the Divide - Technology, Innovation, and Learning in Developing Economies," will take place at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business from April 1-3.

Robert Reich, President Clinton's secretary of labor who is visiting UC Berkeley as a distinguished visiting scholar this semester, is among the conference keynote speakers. Also participating will be John Gage, chief scientist for Sun Microsystems; Akinobu Kanasugi, president of NEC Limited; John Morgridge, chairman of Cisco Systems; Zhang Xing Shen, vice minister of education for China; and Long Yongtu, former vice minister in China of the Ministry of Economics and now China's chief World Trade Organization negotiator.

The conference is the first of a series of annual events and research fellowships organized under the auspices of the United Nation's Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and UC Berkeley's Management of Technology program, a joint program between the Haas School of Business, the College of Engineering, and the School of Information Management and Systems. It is the campus's largest interdisciplinary program.

"UC Berkeley's emphasis on collaborating across disciplines uniquely positions the university to address the kinds of multi-faceted issues that face both developing economies and their U.N. partners around the world," said Tom Campbell, dean of the Haas School of Business. "We are honored to bring our students' and faculty's international perspective and management skills to this worthy endeavor."

The conference has garnered support and participation from faculty and students across the campus, global industry leaders and public officials.

"UC Berkeley is an international leader in the exploration of sustainable engineering solutions to the world's most pressing problems," said Richard Newton, dean of the College of Engineering. "Not only does this important conference bring together experts from engineering and business and many other disciplines, but it also offers a rare opportunity for our students to get out in the field and make a difference in people's lives - an opportunity all engineering students should have in today's global economy."

UC Berkeley graduate students get the chance to create content for next year's event through the Berkeley/UNIDO Fellows Program, a new research program established in conjunction with the conference. The fellows will spend at least three weeks in a developing region conducting field research including primary and secondary data collection, interviews with government and industry leaders, focus groups with individuals, interviews with non-governmental organizations, and site visits.

The research for summer 2004 will include creating solar-powered lighting systems in rural China, advancing cancer prevention in southern Africa, and extending microfinance loans in Uganda. The results will be published in a new journal created for the program and will be presented at the April 2005 United Nations and Management of Technology program conference.

Financial support for the research program and conference includes nearly half a million dollars raised by the Management of Technology program and corporate sponsors including Chevron Texaco, Cisco Systems, Ford Motor Company, Google, Hitachi, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Roche.