Thursday, September 11, 2008

Closing the Innovation Gap

At the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Judy Estrin, launched the publication of her new book, Closing the Innovation Gap. In a presentation on her views on innovation, the author expressed concerns about the present innovation deficit in our society and explained that without innovation there is no progress.

“Our society takes innovation for granted”, she said, and further explained that what we consider innovation, especially in the technological and scientific field, is just an incremental type of innovation, without any roots or seeds. The “Innovation Ecosystem” as the author called it, is the cycle where the innovative process, much like a natural ecosystem, takes place. There should be a seed and enough nutrients for innovation to grow and mature. Both in academia and business world, as well as the non-profit areas, this ecosystem is fundamental. A sustainable Innovation Ecosystem has 3 elemental stages which include research, development, and application. The author stressed the need to place sufficient emphasis on funding, leadership, culture and policy in our society, since they are the nutrients of this system.

At the same time, there are key factors that engage innovation into a cycle and keep it sustainable. These factors are the existence of Needs and Questions, Talent, and a Dynamic Society. She blamed much of the deterioration of innovation on our school systems, the need for measurements of one’s creativity, standardized tests, lack of trust and insecurity in all fields.

The book concludes with a set of core values which foster the right environment for innovation to flow and are actually essential in current issues like the energy crisis, climate change, healthcare, and the standing of the U.S. in the world. Judy Estrin finished the presentation with solutions to this innovation crisis, which included the change in leadership in both public and private sectors, increased funding for research by the government, corporations and non-profit organizations, the importance of investment for growth, and finally the ability to take risks both individually and collectively.

Sponsor: CSIS
Date: September 9, 2008
Time: 10am
Representative Attending: Cristina Lopez

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