Innovation Labs for the 2015 Emerging Issues Forum



Innovation Labs for the 2015 Emerging Issues Forum

Here are the five Innovation Labs set for the afternoon of Day 1 of the 2015 Emerging Issues Forum, Innovation Reconstructed!  Innovation Labs — special breakout sessions led by expert facilitators — are engines of dialogue and deliberation.  Here, Forum attendees do the critical work of distilling information and diverse perspective to identify prospective post-Forum action steps.  On Day 2, the entire Forum audience finds consensus around the best of these options. Your voice is essential to this process!

The Future of Energy in North Carolina

Across the entire energy sector, technological innovation is coming fast.  Sources of energy production, whether traditional, sustainable, or emerging, are rapidly being enhanced, while huge efficiency gains are envisioned for energy storage, transmission, and use. Relatively speaking, we haven’t seen such gains in energy production and efficiency since the early Industrial Revolution. Certain new technologies already are accelerating economic growth and reaching market sustainability. In the view of some experts, the world is fast approaching a tipping point where emerging energy technologies completely disrupt existing business models in the energy sector, and beyond. What are the right choices for North Carolina’s future energy economy?


What’s the right mix of ingredients needed now to support a world-class innovation ecosystem?
Traditionally, the mix starts with a critical mass of institutions and infrastructure, including top-flight universities, businesses, organizations, and other institutions that focus on technology and innovation and have ample research and commercialization facilities. Educational opportunity, developed human capital, and R&D and venture funding are essential inputs. A culture that celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship, coupled with a policy framework that enables the system as a whole, ties the whole system together – the many parts and players connect, ideas flow, partnerships unfold. If this remains the right mix, how’s North Carolina doing? If not, what’s missing? How would you reconstruct North Carolina’s innovation ecosystem to ensure a future of global innovation leadership?

Open Source Government & Civic Engagement

The open government initiative, aka “Government 2.0,” aims to revolutionize government by providing citizens with the one-two punch of open source data and efficient online technologies supporting collaborative problem-solving. Inspired by the power of this new model, citizens work together to reconsider and redesign political institutions and their operations. Along the way, they drive innovation across all parts of government while also creating huge new opportunities for social and economic entrepreneurs. What steps must North Carolina take now to launch an open source revolution in government and citizen engagement?

The Promise of Ag-Biotech

North Carolina, where 5 of the world’s 6 largest ag-biotech companies have major operations, is already an important global ag-biotech player. But the sector continues to evolve very rapidly, spurred on by a combination of pressing global challenges (food, energy, environment, health, etc.), emerging technologies, and the great passion of the sector’s scientists, researchers, and entrepreneurs. From plant-generated cancer therapeutics to new marine aquaculture models to environmental hazard mitigation, ag-biotech continues to attack the world’s biggest problems. How can North Carolina best exploit the state’s existing ag-biotech assets, natural resources, climate, and agricultural history to ensure a future of global ag-biotech leadership?

The Sensor Revolution & The Internet of Things

Soon, a vast “Internet of Things” (IoT) is expected to enfold smart devices, sensors embedded in nearly everything, and whole networked systems in a vast web of connectivity that will move us far, far beyond today’s primarily machine-to-machine communication. Coupled with big data analytics, IoT promises to touch and reshape every part of our lives: communications, home, transport, health, industry, infrastructure, etc. By 2020, the IoT will include some 50 billion connected devices (up from 7 billion in 2013). Experts say that the IoT will represent $14-$33 trillion in new economic value within a decade. How can North Carolina best claim its share while riding the huge IoT wave?