Profile: Frank Levinson

Profile: Frank Levinson

The man behind the Small World Group, Frank Levinson believes in putting his money where his mouth is. Investing in clean and green startups, as well as asking pointedly “how many more years will we have to have like this one before we realize that climate change will be the defining crisis for mankind for the next 100+ years and it will occupy all of our global intellectual and economic resources not to lose the fight?”

When the World Meteorological Organisations released its report in January, here’s what Frank Levinson had to say in a column headed: “Hey frogs – It’s official – welcome to the Pot”.

Well, it’s official. 2010 was the hottest calendar year on record for the last 115 years that we have good scientific data.  All of the 10 hottest years have happened since 1998.  Statistically for this to be the case by chance is 1 in 7.5×10^13.  In other words … no chance.

The complete data record is on the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)

And here is their commentary on the data -

Global Highlights

  • For 2010, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature tied with 2005 as the warmest such period on record, at 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 13.9°C (57.0°F). 1998 is the third warmest year-to-date on record, at 0.60°C (1.08°F) above the 20th century average.
  • The 2010 Northern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest year on record, at 0.73°C (1.31°F) above the 20th century average. The 2010 Southern Hemisphere combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the sixth warmest year on record, at 0.51°C (0.92°F) above the 20th century average.
  • The global land surface temperature for 2010 tied with 2005 as the second warmest on record, at 0.96°C (1.73°F) above the 20th century average. The warmest such period on record occurred in 2007, at 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average.
  • The global ocean surface temperature for 2010 tied with 2005 as the third warmest on record, at 0.49°C (0.88°F) above the 20th century average.
  • In 2010 there was a dramatic shift in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation, which influences temperature and precipitation patterns around the world. A moderate-to-strong El Niño at the beginning of the year transitioned to La Niña conditions by July. At the end of November, La Niña was moderate-to-strong.

(Again – the data above is from NOAA website)

So in case you don’t know, the title of this column comes from the story about the frog in a pot of water who is swimming around comfortably but the pot is over a fire and slowly the frog gets cooked.  The frog is unaware of the impending doom because as the temperature rises he never feels the change, he just dies.  If you toss a frog into boiling water he will jump out because he can see the immediate need, but if you put the frog into normal water and heat it slowly he just cooks and does not try to escape.

How many more years will we have to have like this one before we realize that climate change will be the defining crisis for mankind for the next 100+ years and it will occupy all of our our global intellectual and economic resources not to lose the fight?

Or will we just slowly cook ourselves and our planet?


Frank Levinson’s Small World Group Incubator regularly provides seed funding, mentoring and help to start and grow small companies. 

Small World Group Incubator (SWGI) operates under the Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF) Technology Incubation Scheme. 

Small World Group Incubator has 3 companies now funded and 4 more on the way.

Green Koncepts is lead by Kenneth Lee and focuses on monitoring and control systems for building energy and water usage.  Hardware in the building pushes data periodically out to the cloud and the customers can view the data and control internal elements through a web page from a computer or mobile device.

Optiras is led by Darrell Zhang and Clayton Miller and focuses on solutions that improve the efficiency and workflows of Energy Services Companies.

Rapsodo is led by Batuhan Okur and focuses on a product where a unique combination of hardware and software for a new twist on some existing markets.

Green Line Innovations is led by Stuart Friedman and focuses on partnering with Clean Tech companies to be their bridge to Asian based high volume manufacturing, lower costs.  GLI brings a deep experienced team from a major Fortune 500 company and their collective design and operational experience to this unique startup.

SWGI focuses on 3 areas of technology innovation – clean tech, optical systems and advanced materials.  These are areas of both passion and expertise for us.  We will also look at some special opportunities outside our core on a very selective basis.

The SWG Incubator accepts unsolicited business plans.  However we expect to start more companies by using the substantial IP and working technology from Singapore’s rich ecosystem in their Universities and Institutes.  We will also import some opportunities from abroad.  All execution will be here in Singapore.  Generally we will not be working with existing companies.  Our level of funding precludes this being practical.

There are 5 partners who are managing directors for the incubator -

  • Frank Levinson
  • Dean Haritos
  • Chris Vargas
  • Chong Chiet Ping
  • Kent Pavey

All of the partners have technical or business degrees and all have held senior operating positions in both large and small companies.  We have led companies through the IPO process and also been active in many acquisitions.  We do not think of ourselves as money managers so our Incubator is more technology, process and sales/marketing focused.   If you have an idea or if you are interested in working with us please email us to get things started. Visit the website:

Frank Levinson’s Biographical details:

Frank H. Levinson, Ph.D., is the founder and managing director of Small World Group, with an office in Tiburon, CA.

From 1988 through 2005, he was founder, CTO and chairman of Finisar Corporation, a technology leader in fiber optic subsystems and network performance test systems, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California. Finisar went public in 1999 and in early 2001 was still entirely based in the USA. Over the next 5 years, Frank helped the company expand both manufacturing and R&D into 4 different locations in Asia – Ipoh, Malaysia; Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand and Shanghai, China so that now Finisar has 85% of its employees in Asia. Today Frank still serves on Finisar board of directors.

Frank is an investor and serves on 5 private company boards – Fabrinet, Dewey Homes, Daylight Solutions, Vixar, Cloudbreak Software all of which have revenue and are in various stages of growth from a filed S-1 for upcoming IPO to just formed.

Frank is also active philanthropically with the Smithsonian and their biology and biodiversity group located in Panama. Together they are working to create a series of earth global observatories based on theCTFS plots for tropical forest census and monitoring. Frank also works part time on engineering simple sensing solutions that can work in the tropics to improve the data collection capability from the observatories.

Frank has been a judging chairperson for the California Clean Tech Open business plan competition since its inception in 2006 and has worked with various companies in the clean tech space that have yet to receive their initial funding.

Frank earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, and both an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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