Quest for innovation

Recently, I’ve been to the university Alumni symposium. The theme was innovation. My view on (technological) innovation, shared by many of the participants of the symposium, is that it emerges on the margins of scientific disciplines, where research themes meet and merge. As a result, innovation is rather unpredictable, since the solution you were looking for and the solution you find, are quite often not the same thing. Which means that in order to innovate, you need to be prepared for the unexpected, and identify opportunities as they come along. So the innovator, by definition, is someone who is different, does things differently, not the same as everyone else does (otherwise, someone else would have come up with the idea before). My question is – why is it that in every debate on innovation, and I’ve seen quite a few in recent years, the panel of the debate consists of white guys of average age over 60? I mean, seriously, are these the people that represent the modern scientist and/or innovator? Where are the female scientists, the young people, the non-Europeans, people from a variety of backgrounds, who bring a different way of thinking, and whole new bunch of ideas into their quest for innovation? They are out there innovating, too busy to attend debates. I hope.

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