Thursday, October 11, 2012

What Does Innovation Look Like?

Salim Ismail
Have you ever attended an event that overwhelmingly captivated your attention for an entire hour and left you with an immense, high-level of energy? I had my first experience with this feeling at CNESI’s 2012 Innovation Summit with Salim Ismail.

Salim is the founding Executive Director of Singularity University (SU), which is based at NASA Ames in the Silcon Valley. SU brings together new generations of leaders to utilize exponentially growing technologies to solve global problems.

Huh? What does exponentially growing technologies mean? Well, for someone who still does not have Internet access on her phone, you can see why his presentation was so bewildering, overwhelming, interesting and exuberating – all at the same time!

Let’s start with 3D printing….wow, Salim took his belt off and passed it around the room. This belt was produced from a printer! It can create things that can not be molded. Just think of the game-changing effect this can have on manufacturing! Check out a You Tube video I discovered and another You Tube video he referenced in his presentation.

If you think that’s strange, check out the Google Car. Both CNN and the Wall Street Journal displayed related articles toward the end of September 2012. CNN’s article references one of few states that have authorized Google Cars in California. This can certainly change the entire landscape for transportation – light rail? Humm….where is the best investment of public dollars? Here’s an article from the Wall Street Journal.

In his presentation, Salim talked about the challenges with Federal and State regulations in keeping up with technology, ethics, and the positive impacts of increased technology and innovation. Innovation, in his experience, comes from those outside the field and he feels the best innovators are young people – 8 year olds! It reaches greatest heights when ideas are shared and risks are taken.

What is your approach to creating new ideas? What does innovation look like to you? Is it limited to technologies or does it include processes?

Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

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