The Innovation Horizon

The Innovation Horizon is Expanding!

Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in a fascinating, challenging, and inspiring workshop hosted by the National Academies in Washington, D.C. The workshop was titled “Japan-US Workshop on Sustainable Energy Futures.” As described by the National Academies:

The Science and Technology for Sustainability Program hosted a joint Japan-U.S. workshop on sustainable energy futures in conjunction with the spring 2012 meeting of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. The one-day workshop explored effective strategies and the research and technology needed to achieve sustainable energy solutions in Japan and the U.S. The workshop included participants from governments, academia, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations involved in sustainability issues in Japan and the U.S. Workshop participants identified possible priorities for sustainable energy research and discussed future collaboration between the two countries on research and innovation in the area of sustainability. A brief, individually-authored summary of the workshop will be issued in the near future.

The web site contains links to most of the excellent presentation materials, but I was struck by one slide in particular, from a presentation by
Tateo Arimoto, Director General, Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society, Japan Science and Technology. Arimoto-san, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking during our dinner that evening, explained on slide 14 of his presentation, his view that in Science, Technology and Innovation all address a wide range of societal issues, and that the justifications for Science, Technology, and Innovation therefore include:
  • Profit
  • Competitiveness
  • Growth
  • Employment
  • Wellbeing & Quality of Life
  • Safety, Security and Social Cohesion
  • Sustainability and Resilience
When seen as contributing to the attaining of all these goals, he said,
“the Innovation Horizon is Expanding.”

So it goes with us in the United States of America and the rest of the world. We are called upon to address a growing range of issues with solutions - innovation - that contribute to the benefit of the overall system. And as systems analysts understand well, the increase in the factors and parameters addressed by our efforts actually expands the horizon from which our innovations can emerge. What a positive and exciting approach and realization!