Technology and business pioneer Judy Estrin Challenges business, education, and national leaders to work together in reigniting the
sustainable innovation essential for future growth.
The Innovation Ecosystem
Ongoing, sustainable innovation results from interactions between the three communities of an Innovation Ecosystem - research, development, and application - at an organizational, national or global level.
Core Values of Innovation
Just as there are basic laws that underlie biological ecosystems, there is a set of core values that must work in balance to support innovation. As a group, they determine the capacity for change of an individual, organization, or nation.
Our short-sightedness has led to major challenges — dependence on oil, climate change, health care, and national security — that threaten our economy and quality of life. Each challenge also brings opportunities — if we give innovation the attention it deserves.
At the crack of dawn of my 21st birthday, I was sitting in a dark basement lab, working with researchers at the University College in London and BBN in Boston. We all knew we were working on something important. Little did we know, however, that the software we were developing would become the cornerstone of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Later that day, after a birthday lunch, I attended a computer communications seminar taught by Bob Metcalfe, a researcher at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), one of the country’s premier research labs. Bob's networking scheme, called Ethernet, is now used in computer networks throughout the world.
To most people, getting up before dawn to test trans-Atlantic data transmission and then attending a computer science seminar may sound like a boring way to spend one's 21st birthday. But to me, being involved in the creation of something so new and significant was exciting and fun. The professors and researchers that I encountered at UCLA and Stanford inspired me to pursue a career of innovation. After graduating from Stanford in 1976, I spent 25 years as one of the leaders in the creation and growth of the computer networking industry. In 1998, when I became CTO at Cisco, the benefits of the Internet were finally available to a broad base of consumers.
My life and career benefited from an environment of thriving innovation. I was fortunate to be born at a time when the nation understood the importance of science, technology and innovation, and encouraged taking risks. I'm convinced that my son's generation will not have the same opportunities that I enjoyed, as the country has become increasingly focused on short-term gains. This book was born from my need to try and do something about this shift.
About the Book
Closing the Innovation Gap draws on my experiences as well as on interviews with more than 100 scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, researchers, educators, and academic and business leaders who have been contributors to America's innovative excellence. The first two chapters present a framework for understanding the process of sustainable innovation, including the concept of an Innovation Ecosystem, and the five core values that give individuals, businesses, organizations, and nations the capacity for change. In Chapters 3 through 5, I review the evolution of science and technology in the decades since World War II, identifying what worked well and what went wrong. I conclude with a perspective on key issues that will need to be addressed in order to reignite broad innovation. Chapter 6 illustrates the application of the innovation framework at an organizational level. Chapters 7 and 8 focus on the national Innovation Ecosystem and what can be done to ensure its enduring health.
Hardback: 300 page
Illustrations by Susan Kare