Innovation June 1, 2007Posted by gordonwatts in university.
The UW has a video blog posting on innovation. The video is mostly puff, and I’m not sure it addresses innovation as I think of innovation. But whatever — the folks at UW are trying to reach out with short video blog messages. This one is from our provost.
It is interesting that she talks about innovation in two forms. First are the new technological breakthroughs that end up in companies outside UW. The second are new support services within the university that are helping it function better. I’d agree with the former, but not the latter — at least not as she has stated it. Wireless around campus, for example. I’d call that a basic service that helps foster innovation, though not innovative in-and-of-itself. If we were one of the first campuses to widely install it ourselves, perhaps (we are one of the last major research universities)… if we invented it, perhaps. The other thing is all the innovations she mentions are break through’s that ended up as companies. There is also a considerable amount that is basic science — like the science done in our department. Neutrinos having mass? That is pretty innovative!
Which brings one to the next logical question: how do you make it happen? Since you can’t actually program innovation, I think you can guess at what you need. First, people. Good ones. I’m thinking of graduate & undergraduate students, post-docs, and professors. Next, the ability to collaborate. This is especially important as collaborations are becoming geographically widespread. Third I’d say were resources to do the hard work needed to turn that spark of an idea into something real (computing farms, machine shops, lab space and equipment). But I guess this paragraph is mostly motherhood. 😉
I tend to watch these things because I blog already; so I’m always curious about how others are approaching the same thing. Normally I watch the videos (about 5 minutes) and quickly forget them. I only mention it because they used some 5 year old footage from a lecture of mine (I think they filmed my lecture because they were doing some sort of minority student project – it is a long story). That got me started writing this posting, and then I realized I was a bit annoyed with the content…