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Idea Machines is a deep dive into the systems and people that bring innovations from glimmers in someone's eye all the way to tools, processes, and ideas that can shift paradigms. We see the outputs of innovation systems everywhere but rarely dig into how they work. Idea Machines digs below the surface into crucial but often unspoken questions to explore themes of how we enable innovations today and how we could do it better tomorrow. Idea Machines is hosted by Benjamin Reinhardt.
 
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show series
 
In this conversation I talk to the Amazing Arati Prabhakar about using Solutions R&D to tackle big societal problems, gaps in the innovation ecosystem, DARPA, and more. Arati’s career has covered almost every corner of the innovation ecosystem - she’s done basically every role at - DARPA she was a program manager, started their Microelectronics Tec…
 
In this conversation I talk to Ilan Gur about what it really means for technology to “escape the lab”, the power of context to shape the usefulness of research, the inadequacies of current institutional structures, how activate helps technology escape the lab *by* changing people’s context, and more. Ilan is the CEO and founder of Activate, which i…
 
In this conversation I talk to Luke Constable about the complicated tapestry of finance, funding projects, incentives, organizational and legal structures, social technologies, and more. Luke is the founder of the hedge fund Lembas Capital and publishes a widely-read newsletter full of fascinating deep dives. He’s also trained as a lawyer and histo…
 
In this conversation I talk to Donald Braben about his venture research initiative, peer review, and enabling the 21st century equivalents of Max Planck. Donald has been a staunch advocate of reforming how we fund and evaluate research for decades. From 1980 to 1990 he ran BP’s venture research program, where he had a chance to put his ideas into p…
 
A conversation with Adam Marblestone about his new project - Focused Research Organizations. Focused Research Organizations (FROs) are a new initiative that Adam is working on to address gaps in current institutional structures. You can read more about them in this white paper that Adam released with Sam Rodriques. Links FRO Whitepaper Adam on Twit…
 
Michael Filler and Matthew Realff discuss Fundamental Manufacturing Process innovations. We explore what they are, dig into historical examples, and consider how we might enable more of them to happen. Michael and Matthew are both professors at Georgia Tech and Michael also hosts an excellent podcast about nanotechnology called Nanovation. Our conv…
 
A conversation with Professor Andrew Odlyzko about the forces that have driven the paradigm changes we’ve seen across the research world in the past several decades. Andrew is a professor at the University of Minnesota and worked at Bell Labs before that. The conversation centers around his paper “The Decline of Unfettered Research” which was writt…
 
A conversation with Eleonora Vella about getting the right people in the room, finding research on the cusp of commercializability, and generally how TandemLaunch’s unique system works. Eleonora is a Program director at TandemLaunch. Tandemlaunch is a startup foundry that builds companies from scratch around university research. This is not an easy…
 
A conversation with Dr Anton Howes about The Royal Society of Arts, cultural factors that drive innovation, and many aspects of historical innovation. Anton is a historian of innovation whose work is expansive, but focuses especially on England in the 18th and 19th centuries as a hotbed of technological creativity. He recently released an excellent…
 
A conversation with Ashish Arora about how and why the interlocking American institutions that support technological change have evolved over time, their current strengths and weaknesses, and how they might change in the future. Ashish Arora is the Rex D. Adams Professor of Business Administration at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.…
 
In this episode I talk to Venkatesh Narayanamurti about Bell Labs, running research organizations, and why the distinction between basic and applied research is totally wrong. Venkatesh has led organizations across the research landscape: he was a director at Bell Labs during its Golden Age, a VP at Sandia National Lab, the Dean of Engineering at U…
 
In this episode I talk to Adam Marblestone about technology roadmapping, scientific gems hidden in plain sight, and systematically exploring complex systems. Adam is currently a research scientist at Google DeepMind and in the past has been the chief strategy officer at a brain-computer interface company and did research on brain mapping with Ed Bo…
 
In this episode I talk to Jude Gomilla about distributed innovation systems focused especially around the bottom-up response to the coronavirus crisis. Jude is a physicist, founder and CEO of the knowledge compilation platform Golden, and a prolific angel investor. He’s also been in the thick of the distributed response to the coronavirus response …
 
Intro In this episode I talk to Joel Chan about cross-disciplinary knowledge transfer, zettlekasten, and too many other things to enumerate. Joel is an a professor in the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies and a member of their Human-Computer Interaction Lab. His research focuses on understanding and creating generalizable conf…
 
In this episode I talk to Anna Goldstein about how the ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) model works and what makes it unique. We focus on ARPA-E: the department of Energy’s version of DARPA that funds breakthrough energy research. Anna is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of the paper “Fundin…
 
In this episode I talk to Jason Crawford about his work on the history of progress, funding and incentivizing inventions, ideas behind their time, and more. Jason is the author of the Roots of Progress blog, where he focuses on telling the story of human progress in an amazingly accessible way. Key Takeaways Funding *structures* are understudied as…
 
In this episode I talk to Eli Velasquez about creating startup ecosystems, commercializing research, especially when it's not necessarily venture-backable, and how the US government thinks about startups. Eli is the head of Venture Development at VentureWell - a non profit organization that funds and trains faculty and student innovators to create …
 
In this episode I talk to Bill Janeway about previous eras of venture capital and startups, how bubbles drive innovation, the role of government in innovation. Bill describes himself as "theorist-practitioner": he did a PhD in Economics, was a successful venture capitalist in the 80's and 90's with the firm Warburg Pincus and is now an affiliated f…
 
In this episode I talk to Mark Hammond about how Deep Science Ventures works, why the linear commercialization model leaves a lot on the table, and the idea of venture-focused research. Mark is the founder of Deep Science Ventures, an organization with a fascinating model for launching science-based companies. Mark has many crisply articulated thes…
 
Alexey Guzey is an independent researcher focusing on how to systemically increase the rate of biology discoveries and the idea that reviving the patronage system may be a way to do that. We spend most of our time talking about the project he's been working on for the past year but also touch on some of his thinking around connecting with people, w…
 
Cindy Wu and Denny Luan are the founders of experiment.com - a platform that allows anybody to request funding for a science project and anybody to fund them. It's fascinating because it stands completely outside of the grant funding and publication system that drives most science today. In this podcast we discuss how the current system prevents th…
 
In this episode I talk to Errol Arkilic about different systems involved in turning research into companies. Errol has been helping research make the jump from the lab to the market for more than fifteen years: he was a program manager at the National Science Foundation or NSF, Small Business Innovation Research or SBIR program, where he awarded gr…
 
In this conversation Sam Arbesman and I talk about unlocking cross-disciplinary innovations, long term organizations, combinatorial creativity and much more. As you might expect from someone with Generalist Thinking as a main area of interest, Sam has out-of-the-box insights in a ton of domains and he's amazing at capturing them in tight concepts l…
 
In this episode I speak to Matt Clifford about talent investing, how big long term projects can start small, and financial innovations. Matt is the CEO and co-founder of Entrepreneur First. Entrepreneur First, abbreviated as EF, is a fascinating system. It starts with cohorts of around fifty to a hundred ambitious, talented people who want to start…
 
In this episode I talk to Evan Miyazono about tackling metaresearch questions, how novel physical phenomena go from "oh that's cool" to devices that harness cutting edge physics, and how we could better incentivize the creators of innovations where traditionally it's hard to capture value, like open-source software and early-stage research. Evan is…
 
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