IPAM Lecture: “Missing in Translation – Where are the Innovations?” by Sadasivan Shankar

November 12, 2015


Innovations have driven much of the advancement of human civilization. Examples include the industrial revolution, electricity, manned flight, information technology, Moore’s law, the internet, etc. Similarly, products like the PC, iPhone, Tesla electric car, and Google search engine are also associated with innovation. Thus we could define innovation as the development of a new device, product or method of doing things that is different from what already exists. Since goods and services determine economic output, the ability of a nation or state to translate fundamental ideas, concepts, or research into reality determines its economic strength. In other words, innovations are essential to economic leadership. It is clear that the future belongs to those countries or communities where innovation thrives both organically and top-down. We will examine some examples of U.S. leadership in innovation. As we look at different metrics of innovation, we will assess the reasons that the U.S. is currently in danger of losing its leadership. We will argue that the problem is multi-dimensional and that solutions could come from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, businesses, and government policies.