Unleashing Innovation

Unleashing Innovation
Corporate Club at Landerhaven
November 14, 2012

The final Corporate Club for the year was held at Executive Caterers at Landerhaven on November 14, 2012. The title was Unleashing Innovation.

The distinguished panel consisted of Baiju Shah, CEO of Bio Metrix, Dr. Luis Proenza, President, The University of Akron and Jim Free, Executive Director NASA Glenn Research Center. The moderator was TV 8 anchor, Lou Maglio.

Moderator Lou Maglio with Baiju Shah, Dr.Luis Proenza and Jim Free

Moderator Lou Maglio with Baiju Shah, Dr. Luis Proenza and Jim Free

A high energy discussion of innovation and how new ideas and concepts crossed over into various industries ensued. Mr. Free gave the example of a new aero-gel NASA is working on that will affect the way we insulate our houses, our clothes and even space travel. One millimeter of this gel will insulate two times greater than six inches of fiberglass.

Dr. Proenza noted that Ohio is the No. 1 employer in the polymer field. University of Akron is preparing students for some of the more than 1800 jobs in that field today. The number is expected to rise quickly.

 Dr. Luis Proenza

Dr. Luis Proenza

As moderator Lou Maglio pointed out, none of these people are first and foremost marketing people, but they have to raise funds and secure investors to succeed.

Lou Maglio

Lou Maglio

Baiju Shah stated that the mission of innovation must be backed up with a business plan in order to attract investors, but insists that the money is out there, even in this economy. People from Northeast Ohio need to understand the need to go outside their region and outside of their comfort zone in order to draw investors to them, but it is very doable.

Baiju Shah

Baiju Shah

The University of Akron is attempting to attract the talent that will attract the investors.

Strong emphasis was placed on the need for Cleveland and NEO to have a better sense of self and project that to people outside of the region. Mr. Shah says he is always asked "Why Cleveland?" and he has no problem pointing out what a great city this is, but that attitude of pride is not expressed by a lot of residents.

Mr. Free points out that a view from space of the NEO region will not show a dividing line around Cleveland, and another around suburbs, and another around Akron. It will instead show a region, and success will come when we think regionally. Proenza says geo-political maps are irrelevant. Regions, not individual cities, produce innovation and success.

Jim Free

Jim Free

Of course the subject of outsourcing was discussed. Shah says it should be thought of as collaboration not outsourcing. Sometimes it is necessary and can allow progress to be made. NASA is in a unique position pertaining to outsourcing because other countries are outsourcing to them, not the other way around.

Moderator Lou Maglio with Baiju Shah, Dr.Luis Proenza and Jim Free

Lou Maglio with Baiju Shah, Dr. Luis Proenza and Jim Free

There have been many successful innovations in even as short a time as the last five years. Technology is now being used to send electrical signals to the body that allows muscles to function. Similar technology is being used in cases of depression and, mental illness. NASA is working on many innovations for veterans and others who have lost limbs. There is also much work being down on the human pancreas - finding ways to make it produce insulin at appropriate levels and therefore virtually curing Diabetes.

Moderator Lou Maglio with Baiju Shah, Dr.Luis Proenza and Jim Free with Harlan Diamond

Innovation panelists with with Harlan Diamond

It was a very positive discussion by people who have been part of major innovations and bodes well for the future.

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