Judy Estrin has zeroed in on the lack of long-term thinking in business and culture that is one of the gravest problems we face today. Her urgent call to action is a must-read for anyone interested in fostering and accelerating innovation in their business or organization.
— Bob Iger, CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Deeply thought-provoking. An extraordinary tapestry of commentary drawn from scores of interviews and woven into a coherent fabric about innovation and why it must be a part of America’s future.
— Vint Cerf, VP and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

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.


National Issue

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.

Judy Estrin is one of Silicon Valley’s greatest entrepreneurs and technologists. If you care about the state of entrepreneurship and management in the 21st century, her book is a must-read.
— Roger McNamee, Managing Director, Elevation Partners
Concerned about the future of America’s role in the global economy? Then, whether you’re a business leader, educator or policy maker, you should read this book. America achieved greatness through its ability to engineer, explore and innovate. Estrin provides a fresh perspective on the importance of innovation to our future, and shines a bright light on the problems we face in rebuilding its crumbling cultural and educational foundations.
— Sally K. Ride, Ph.D., CEO, Sally Ride Science

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.

Download Cover & Excerpt
Table of Contents
FAQ with Judy Estrin

ISBN: 0071499873
Hardback: 300 page
Publisher: McGraw-Hill
Illustrations by Susan Kare

A passionate look at innovation by a proven innovator concerned about
the level of short-sightedness surrounding us.
— Andy Grove, Former CEO, Intel