Reports:OIH Seminar “UK state of the art technology Raspberry Pi fosters global innovation” 2013.05.27

In Britain, innovative IT technologies aiming to solve social issues are seeing the day on a regular basis. The Raspberry Pi* is one of them. Eben Upton, Raspberry Pi’s creator, was invited to OIH Seminar on May 27, 2013, where, following a “made in Britain” technology update by co-hosting British Consul, he gave a talk about the new potential enabled by the Raspberry Pi and shared a few stories about its creation.

Program and Speaker’s Profile

*Raspberry Pi: The Raspberry Pi is a business card-sized, single-board computer which sold more than one million units in the first year after its release. As an open-source hardware, along with the Arduino (referred to in the book “Makers”, by Chris Anderson), the Raspberry Pi has been receiving a lot of attention.

Talk “Raspberry Pi fosters global innovation”

Eben Upton, Founder, Raspberry Pi Foundation

The Birth of the Raspberry Pi

Eben Upton, who used to teach Computer Science at St. Johns College, Cambridge University, was feeling anxious about students’ poor programming skills, which he thought was due to a lack of computers around them. That was the start of Raspberry Pi Project.
“Raspberry Pi was created for education. It has to be compatible with as many programming languages as possible, fun for children, small, robust, and easily affordable.” says Upton. The concept itself is the very reason why the Raspberry Pi is this popular.


Collaboration with External Partners

A blog about the project created by an enthusiastic BBC journalist helped make the Raspberry Pi widely known, by which large orders of the product began to be placed. Entering mass production stage was a milestone. Luckily enough, a license agreement concluded with a major company at the right time solved many production and distribution issues.
It is primordial for a startup to establish good relations and durable partnerships with bigger companies, as it is a requirement for them to become able to scale-up their operations.

From an User Community to the World

Upton said that the Raspberry Pi user community means a lot to him.
“I think our user community is setting a course. Recently we have welcomed very young members to our community and they proved that the level of their programming skills has nothing to do with their direct environment. I hope more people of all ages get involved in programming. My task is to show the exciting world of computer science to children. There will be no future without education for the next generation.”

Talk session

Eben Upton, Founder, Raspberry Pi Foundation
Shozo Takeoka, Chairman and Representative Director, Axe, Inc.
Masafumi Ohta, Lead, Raspberry Pi Users Group

Programming is an Essential Job

Ohta is worried that Japanese students are not interested in informatics, by their poor programming skills, and the fact that even engineers are not able to code. “Education in Japan is not bad, puts an emphasis on meticulous operations, and has a widespread international recognition. Like learning how to play piano, it has to be started at a very young age. It is not just about education system, it is important to become familiar with computers at home. Also, it should be recognized that computer programming is an essential skill for companies.” Upton responded.

“Education” and “innovation” are critical issues both in Japan and England. As Ed Thomson, British Consul in charge of Science and Technology, mentioned in his introduction about current British technologies: “Ideas, good skills and a proper environment can foster innovation”. The hard part, which is also a key point, is to provide the environment to develop innovation. It was also recalled during this seminar the importance of family and school as learning environments.

Thoughts from the Participants

It was really meaningful to hear all those stories about technical issues and how to overcome teething problems in the business to move on the next stage.
Number of participants: ninety nine (limit : forty)

Hosts:City Planning Bureau, City of Osaka  Co-hosts:British Consulate-General