Tuesday, May 20, 2008

FEI Update: That's Just Day One

Well what a first day, so much to see and learn. I had the chance to walk through many of the tracks and through the exhibition hall spending a great deal of time meeting with attendees discussing the event and the great presentations.

The first day was closed with a keynote presentation by Dean Kamen, founder and president of DEKA and founder of FIRST. He gave a great presentation, discussing innovation vs. invention, the realities and challenges of innovation, as well as the great work of FIRST. I really want to share with you the first 10 minutes of his presentation which you can listen to HERE. He begins by discussing the South Pointing Chariot and the compass both from ancient China. I think you’ll find it very interesting and compelling.

At the end of his presentation he discusses his FIRST organization. I have to tell you I was very impressed as he describes the issue of American youth’s focus on the sports and entertainment industries rather than developing a passion for learning, the sciences, mathematics, engineering. He founded FIRST with the goal of creating that interest and passion for learning but by engaging the adults in the youth’s lives to give them the role models they need and involving them in a unique sport tournament

Over the past 15 years the organization has grown in a national yearly event that reaches children in high school, junior high and elementary school. The amount of companies involved goes beyond the Fortune 500 but includes many local businesses that team together to sponsor these youths. I think you’ll find the story of FIRST just as remarkable as the audience did today. You can listen to it HERE. Afterwards attendees had a chance to meet with some of the youth teams and see their robots in action, something my pictures just don’t do justice.

After the presentation it was off for some great networking; I happened to stop by a cocktail hour hosted by our friends at Invention Machine, who are here presenting during our Innovation Thought Leaders giving a session on “Innovation through Biomimicry”. While I was there meeting with other attendees, I was introduced to Peter Egelston, founder and president of Smuttynose Brewing, and after an initial discussion about the name Smuttynose, I asked Peter to tell me about the great sustainable innovation that Smuttynose is implementing and hoping to incorporate into a new brewing facility they hope to begin construction on in the months to come. I think you’ll find it a remarkable example of how any company can take some great steps going green and developing sustainable innovation. You can listen to it HERE.

Also a colleague of ours, Adam Zand of Topaz Partners has his thoughts of day one from FEI as well as some podcast interviews, enjoy and expect to see more soon.



Overall this has been a remarkable first day with great learning and networking opportunities. Tomorrow I’m expecting some great keynotes by A.G Lafley, Deborah Ancona, Ray Kurzweil, and Michael Giersch. I’ll try and post tomorrow as soon as I can.

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