The Future Of Innovation Could Reside in Collaboration

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Yesterday, I attended the Churchill Club‘s program addressing “The Innovation Economy: R&D and a Crisis.” The panelists included Josephine Chang, an IBM Fellow and Vice President of IBM Almaden Research Center; renowned innovation expert and former Cisco CTO Judy Estrin; Rick Rashid, a senior vice president of research at Microsoft; VC executive Sue Siegel, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures; and journalist and economist Michael Mandel, of BusinessWeek (he was the moderator).

It’s impossible for anyone to have a serious conversation about how technology and innovation will change in the future without addressing the current state of the economy and how enterprises, entrepreneurs and big businesses will be able to overcome this immense obstacle. The consensus among the panel was that innovation tends to drive economic growth and Mandel posed several questions about the future of innovation in the current recession. Judy Estrin, a widely known expert on innovation and the author of “Closing the Innovation Gap,” made some pretty interesting observations and predictions.

Estrin believes that there is a definite innovation deficit at the moment due to a past culture of developing short-sighted technologies instead of technologies that plant seeds for the future. In order to get to sustainable growth, she said that innovation needs to focus on progress for the long-term vision.

Estrin added that for healthy innovation to occur, small business, government, non-profits and entrepreneurs need to collaborate. Estrin also brought up an interesting point about the nature of of future innovation. She explained that the future of innovation remains in the intersection of technologies and individual sectors, citing the potential of combining health care and data storage technology as an example. Innovation and technology need to move away from the “silo” model, and head towards a collaborative and multi-platform model, according to Estrin. But changing the model towards interdisciplinary innovation will be incredibly challenging, she maintained.

Estrin brings up a good point about the necessity for the U.S. government to be a part of helping foster innovation in the current economy. It should be fascinating to see the exact nature of the government’s plan to implement policies towards jump starting innovation (let’s hope there are plans) and whether it will involve Estrin’s collaboration thoughts. The administration has yet to name its CTO (Vivek Kundra was nominated as the White House’s CIO today), but I’m assuming that he or she will have a solid plan on how to combat the “deficit” in innovation in an economic downturn.

  • Vlad B

    Ok, fair enuff. Nothing new though; move away from awesome proof of concept standalone technologies and blend them into much everything else.

    Title made me chuckle though. You mean in order to innovate we need to work together? Clearly, there’s a crisis going on.

  • Vlad B

    Ok, fair enuff. Nothing new though; move away from awesome proof of concept standalone technologies and blend them into much everything else.

    Title made me chuckle though. You mean in order to innovate we need to work together? Clearly, there’s a crisis going on.

  • http://www.ipic-visual.com Derek Kean

    It is hard to determine where and how governments will choose to go with their money/investments. Of course corporates need to work with the governments of the world to help foster the new tech- but then I feel it will dilute the essence of innovation itself.

    When it becomes more viable to innovate in order to sell out, ideas will remain short-sighted. A great example of how this is NOT happening is to look at Twitter- $500m buyout bids from FB and Google, both turned down. Thats a huge message to the world that this tech wants to stay as individual as possible.

    There are many investment opportunities offering different-sameness with the intent to be bought out. I have been approached by a few that their sole business plan is to follow a popular model, build a brand name and sell to a giant corp. Sounds good, because 1 dollar could end up as 100, but the balance needs to be there by the Government to make sure that ownership can be maintained.

    I personally would not build a company with my blood sweat and tears just to have it bought out and changed because of shareholders.

    Collaboration is highly important, but at what price?

    -Derek

  • http://www.ipic-visual.com Derek Kean

    It is hard to determine where and how governments will choose to go with their money/investments. Of course corporates need to work with the governments of the world to help foster the new tech- but then I feel it will dilute the essence of innovation itself.

    When it becomes more viable to innovate in order to sell out, ideas will remain short-sighted. A great example of how this is NOT happening is to look at Twitter- $500m buyout bids from FB and Google, both turned down. Thats a huge message to the world that this tech wants to stay as individual as possible.

    There are many investment opportunities offering different-sameness with the intent to be bought out. I have been approached by a few that their sole business plan is to follow a popular model, build a brand name and sell to a giant corp. Sounds good, because 1 dollar could end up as 100, but the balance needs to be there by the Government to make sure that ownership can be maintained.

    I personally would not build a company with my blood sweat and tears just to have it bought out and changed because of shareholders.

    Collaboration is highly important, but at what price?

    -Derek

  • http://www.freetrialgames.net FreeTrialGames

    Interesting theory

  • http://www.freetrialgames.net FreeTrialGames

    Interesting theory

  • http://www.globaltechnologysolutionsinc.net Jim Leazier

    The current state of technology is rapidly moving towards a cloud environment by numerous companies like Microsoft, IBM, Vmware, Sun, etc. The cloud model allows vast groups of people to colaborate on common projects, technologies, or web-casts by using their browser as the connector. This model allows non-IT people to connect to others without asking their IT staff to be involved, which is cost effective and hassle free.

    Many colaboration projects get hung up in having IT staff members involved, since the new technology may move toward elimnating unnecessay IT staff members as part of the project.

  • http://www.globaltechnologysolutionsinc.net Jim Leazier

    The current state of technology is rapidly moving towards a cloud environment by numerous companies like Microsoft, IBM, Vmware, Sun, etc. The cloud model allows vast groups of people to colaborate on common projects, technologies, or web-casts by using their browser as the connector. This model allows non-IT people to connect to others without asking their IT staff to be involved, which is cost effective and hassle free.

    Many colaboration projects get hung up in having IT staff members involved, since the new technology may move toward elimnating unnecessay IT staff members as part of the project.

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