For most of us, going to work is not just an economic act motivated by the need to earn money. Increasingly it is also a social act, during which we develop relationships, form bonds, explore opportunities for personal growth and share knowledge. Smart employers recognise that, beyond the need to make workplaces congenial places for employees to enjoy their work and get on with their colleagues, they also benefit from creating cultures and working environments where employees can create value through collaborating and building know-how that can benefit the business. At its most rudimentary, the humble conversation lies at the heart of this complex array of processes and this paper will look at what we know about the evolution of conversations at work and why they have become more important in helping organisations to foster employee engagement and even generate commercially exploitable intellectual capital in the so-called'knowledge economy'.
The Sino-Israeli Robotics Institute (SIRI) was inaugurated in mid-December when a delegation of nine Israeli companies -- led by Ariel University Prof. Zvi Shiller, chair of the Israeli Robotics Association, and Technion Prof. Moshe Shoham, founder of Mazor Robotics and a world leader in medical robotics -- participated in the second Sino-Israeli Robotics Innovation Conference in Guangzhou, China. Intended as "home base" for Israeli robotics companies entering the Chinese market, SIRI is located at the Guangzhou International Robotics Center (ROBOHUB), a government-supported, 4,800-square-meter robotics incubator and demonstration center including a large exhibition and demo area, innovation lab, training center, and corporate offices. "This is an exciting time for the Israeli robotics industry," Shiller said. "We are committed to establishing a true partnership with SIRI and ROBOHUB, and we look forward to broadening this strategic cooperation, which will serve as a fast track for transforming ideas into products and for moving products into the Chinese market." The conference attracted some 100 robotics companies from Guangdong Province, more than 40 of which held B2B meetings with the Israeli companies.
Toyota is close to acquiring two robotics companies from Google, according to a report in Wednesday's Nikkei newspaper. The newspaper said the two companies are in final talks, but details are yet to be discussed so the deal could still fall through. The deal would see Boston Dynamics, a developer of advanced two- and four-legged robots for the U.S. military, and Schaft, a Tokyo-based developer of humanoid robots, transferred to the Toyota Research Institute. The unit is a recently launched billion-dollar research arm based in Silicon Valley. Google acquired Boston Dynamics and Schaft several years ago as part of a push into robotics, but that hasn't gone anywhere since robotics head Andy Rubin left the company in late 2014.
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