Innovation is personal.
It is, by nature and nurture, an inevitable human enterprise that begins with a terrible itch to scratch. That itch may begin as simply as a mere annoyance or as profound as confronting cancer.
All of this was the heart of the BIF10 (Business Innovation Factory) annual summit.
After 10 years and three hundred and twenty innovator/storytellers, BIF continues to amaze, enthrall, and inspire the audience of 300 who make the pilgrimage to Providence, Rhode Island each year.
Let’s begin with the amaze and enthrall.
One of the innovators is Camille Beatty. She is 14-years-old and just started her first week in high school.
The amazing part?
She just started her own Robotics Company with her 12-year-old sister Genevieve. This summer, Camille and her sister were invited to the White House by President Obama to demonstrate their robots at the White House.
Her quest began with an itch -- an unquenchable desire to understand how things work and how to turn ideas into machines.
Another innovator is Dr. Rupal Patel – a speech scientist at Northeastern University. Her itch was to help give a voice to people without one. Patel is working on creating individualized synthetic voices that match a person’s gender, age, and even emotions, rather than the one-size-fits-all computer generated voices that seem to dehumanize the articulated sounds of the person.
Then there’s David Moinina Sengeh, a Ph.D., candidate at the MIT Media Lab, President and co-founder, Global Minimum Inc. Sengeh, a native of Sierra Leone grew up during that country’s brutal, 11-year civil ware that has left 50,000 dead and 4,000 who had limbs crudely amputated as a form of political terror.
His itch was to understand how to mitigate the suffering and pain of prosthetic devices by combining medical imaging, 3-D printing, and individualized insights to create the next generation of prosthetics.
And there’s Arlene Samen. Her itch was to help at-risk mothers and children.
She is the Founder, President and Executive Director of One Heart World-Wide. She was among the first nurse practitioners in the field of high-risk obstetrics. She was profoundly moved in 1997 by a chance encounter with the Dalai Lama who told her “she must go to Tibet and help women safely give birth there.”
Samen moved from Utah to Nepal and started an organization that has helped save hundreds of lives and will continue to have an impact on the lives of thousands in Nepal and beyond.
Ultimately, these singular itches, desires, and challenges are elevated to innovative ideas that move from the personal to the collective. The collective can be a small as single supporter or a network of hundreds that rally to the potential.
Let’s end with the inspire part.
All the innovators at BIF tell their unique story. But that story fills our minds and hearts with a renewed sense of purpose and drive. Some resonate more than others.
But ultimately, the singular becomes plural and we all share in the truly remarkable results.
Thank you BIF.