The FEI 2012 Conference lived up to it’s billing and reputation as the “serious” innovation conference. Hard to summarise, but let me try: great, insightful, relevant speakers, interesting interactions with both participants and vendors, and lots of fun and conversations around the edges. All about innovation of course. It’s expensive, but it you’re serious about innovation at your organisation and want to be aware of trends in the “industry” it’s well worth going. I made some great connections for KILN, which was my personal goal in going.
Particularly memorable, for me, were the keynotes of Tom Szaky of Terracycle and Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine. Why those two? Well, they both had new information about innovation to be sure, but more than that they connected to people with authentic stories. Szaky is a compelling new visionary and he needs watching, he’s done great things already but this is a Jobs-like mind, this is a force of nature. Chris Anderson simply opened my eyes to a new set of trends related to manufacturing. Chris tied his talk to his family experiences with innovation, which I found fascinating.
Also had an amazing time doing a bit of improv with Michelle James. She makes the connection between games and serious results as well as anyone I’ve seen.
Also very pleased to meet and do a bit of work with Nathan Schwagler -- who’s doing some amazing things at the University of South Florida in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He’s the “creative in residence” and his every action embodies that mission. Nice to see a dynamo in action, and our dual speech to an financial officer meeting was a highlight of my trip. Fellow Tampa area innovation mavens Reuben Pressman and Hunter Payne popped over to support our talk — here are two young entrepreneurs that are in the process of setting up long and interesting careers. I get the sense that Nathan and friends are growing a supportive creative/entrepreneurial/innovation community in Tampa that will have long lasting positive impact.
Can I draw a conclusion about Florida from one conference and meeting a subset of the creativity and innovation community in Tampa? Sure I can! Florida is a nascent hotbed of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Every school in the state needs a Nathan Schwagler, and every community needs about 100 more Reuben Pressman’s and Hunter Payne’s.
They are there, they only need empowered.