Inside Real Innovation

By Eugene A. Fitzgerald

Materials Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA


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    Rasika Kalwit

    5.0 out of 5 stars

    In the whole series, I found this seminar most interesting. Most of the time students get confused between innovation and invention. The presenter explained both invention and innovation processes and what goes on behind the scene.  The innovation idea can be formed using three different aspects, technology, implementation and marketplace. The timeline for the innovation process is interesting and it can takes years to even form a basic idea and it’s an iterative process which can take longer to actually realize. The presenter gives realistic scenario about the innovation pipeline where most of the research is done by big corporations but now, industry academic co-operative work should be emphasized more for producing real innovation. The presenter also talks about problems faced in the process of innovation such as lack of funding, competition and intellectual property preservation. Overall, it’s a really engaging seminar.

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    Sarvesh Vijay Pradhan

    3.0 out of 5 stars

    Overall a good seminar focused on what goes into the 'innovation' pipeline and some thoughts on why innovation is suffering today. The talk is divided into defining the innovation pipeline and a description of the experiences of the Speaker along that pipeline. I found the talk difficult to follow until the example was explained and is largely the reason I give this three stars. The spoken experiences give meaning to the pipeline and remove ambiguity in the contribution of each stage. I would urge viewers to stay with the talk until the example is detailed.

    The Speaker defines 'innovation' as research that is translated into a product to be consumed by the market place. Only when the product is tangible, consumed and purchased by the marketplace is the innovation considered 'real'. To this end the Speaker defines a synergy between three pillars, the technology, the implementation and the marketplace. The implementation is the physical realization of the product while takes into account the limitations of manufacturing process or supply chain etc. All three pillars narrow as the time spent on the innovation increases; from a big idea to a narrow market to a specific manufacturing technique. The time to a real innovation is put at 10-15 years.

    The model of innovation described helped define a thought framework of how to approach innovation as an individual. It also defines the need for partners who understand the pillars and are willing to speak across pillars. Further the Speaker talks about the lack of capital reaching real innovation. He blames this largely on incorrect metrics used to measure innovation, number of startups, intellectual property and the lack of insight to spend 10-15 years supporting the innovation pipeline. The speaker encourages more industry academic co-operation to root researchers in solving problems that are tangible in today's markets thereby producing real innovation.


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    Gang Yang

    4.0 out of 5 stars

    An overall very good seminar about innovation.

    One thing I really like about this lecture is how deep it explains what actually makes innovation happen. I recall that in my semester (Fall 2015) taking this course other seminar also talked about innovation, although it was not the main part. It also explained why innovation is not invention, and shows the pieces (market, implementation and technology) but didn't clearly showed how they interact. It showed innovation process as more or less linear (or maybe just me not understanding that seminar well enough). On the other hand this lecture takes a step further and clearly explains why innovation process is iterative with 3 pieces interacting with each other. People watching this would have very clear understanding about innovation.

    Another aspect I found interesting is since this lecture was in 2010 and US was still recovering from the Great Recession, the speaker started the lecture with the question why capital can't converge in right place where innovation is happening. While I don't believe the cause is investors had little understanding of innovation process (the root cause is probably greed), I think this lecture could also be shown to business people besides engineers. The information about how innovation happens, what is the current state of innovation and how we can solve the problems is helpful to both groups making decisions.

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