Pathfinders of Innovation

Pathfinders of Innovation is a series by the Renewing America Innovation Project at CSIS. Drawing on the vast talent of countless individuals across the United States, the RAI Project hopes to showcase those pioneers who are leading from various positions in government, industry, and academia. In conversations with CSIS president and CEO John Hamre and RAI Project director and senior fellow Sujai Shivakumar, these leaders delve into their areas of expertise, describing timely issues like technology transfer, public-private partnership, intellectual property, and what can be done to help the U.S. maintain its trademark innovating spirit for a new age of global competition.

Indiana University's David Audretsch on Place-Based Innovation

Indiana University distinguished professor and Ameritech Chair of Economic Development David Audrestch joins RAI director Sujai Shivakumar to discuss the links between entrepreneurship, government policy, innovation, economic development, and global competitiveness.


Medical Entrepreneur Farhad "Fred" Khosravi on the American dream

Silicon Valley medical device entrepreneur Farhad "Fred" Khosravi joins CSIS president and CEO John Hamre virtually to tell the story of leaving Iran in the midst of the revolution and coming to America, where a young man with big ideas came to found over 25 medical device companies that have changed the lives of countless people.


Venture Capitalist Jan Garfinkle on creating an innovation ecosystem

Michigan-based Arboretum Ventures founder and managing partner Jan Garfinkle sits down virtually with CSIS president and CEO John Hamre to explain how university-centered “smart zones” between America’s coasts can be conveners for a whole network of innovative hubs across the country.


National Venture Capital Association head Bobby Franklin on venture capital’s role

NVCA president and CEO Bobby Franklin virtually joins CSIS president and CEO John Hamre to talk about how a vibrant venture capital ecosystem provides the “rocket fuel” necessary for driving and nurturing the machine of American innovation at a time when federal money is making up a smaller part of total U.S. research and development expenditures each year.


UNCF innovation director Chad Womack on expanding innovation opportunities

Chad Womack, senior director of STEM Initiatives and HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship (ICE) at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) engages CSIS president and CEO John Hamre in a virtual conversation on what can be done to expand opportunities for black inventors. Dr. Womack discusses his exciting career path from government to the private sector, and academia and speaks about the experience of realizing his own self-worth as an entrepreneur of color.


Former DARPA and NIST director Arati Prabhakar on finding innovative solutions for the future

Arati Prabhakar, whose long list of achievements includes being the first female director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) virtually meets with CSIS president and CEO John Hamre to expound on why innovation is more than just widgets, and how innovative thinking is the cornerstone for America’s success in the face of this century’s new challenges.


Battelle Labs head Lou von Thaer on innovation in the heartland

Battelle president and CEO Lewis “Lou” von Thaer joins CSIS president and CEO John Hamre in a virtual discussion on the great work being done at Battelle and other research and academic organizations “between the coasts.” He also explains the programs proposed and underway that can be used to engage greater numbers of children born outside of the U.S.’s economic powerhouse cities in STEM education and innovative thinking.


University of New Hampshire vice provost Marc Sedam on university innovation

University of New Hampshire vice provost for innovation and managing director of UNHInnovation Marc Sedam has a virtual conversation with CSIS president & CEO John Hamre where he delves into the great work that American universities are doing to contribute to the country’s innovation ecosystem, as well as how academia can further support the idea-to-startup process.


Former Boeing chairman and CEO Jim McNerney on public-private partnerships

Former chairman and CEO of Boeing Jim McNerney, who oversaw the development of the Boeing 787, and previously served as CEO of 3M and as an executive at General Electric, sits down virtually with CSIS president & CEO John Hamre to talk about the unique functions that the federal government and academia play in working with industry to foster innovation in the U.S.


FLC head Paul Zielinski on innovation in the federal labs

Federal Laboratory Consortium head Paul Zielinski sits down virtually with CSIS president & CEO John Hamre to talk about the innovation process from labs to product, describing the government's unique role in ensuring the U.S.'s continued competitive edge in the global market and discussing who "owns" innovation.


Serial inventor Dean Kamen on America’s innovative spirit

A prodigious inventor and unflagging optimist who invented the Segway, the iBOT, and the first drug infusion pump, Dean Kamen sits down virtually with CSIS president and CEO John Hamre to talk about his life journey and how he hopes to create a nation of diverse inventors through his FIRST youth education program.


Former USPTO director Andrei Iancu on IP’s importance

Former Patent and Trademark Office head Andrei Iancu, now a CSIS non-resident senior adviser with the Renewing American Innovation Project, sits down virtually with CSIS president & CEO John Hamre to discuss how intellectual property is enshrined in the Constitution itself, and how it is the key to ensuring that America’s innovative spirit thrives for years to come.