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Innovator Article

Long Fuse, Big Bang of Innovation

Calls for breakthroughs in science and technology have never been louder, and yet the demand for innovation is made more challenging by public and political misconceptions surrounding where, when and how it happens. Professor Andrew Hargadon uses historical research to advance the understanding of the innovation process. In October, Hargadon was invited to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies Division’s Distinguished Lecture Series, where he shared his insights with researchers involved in eco-friendly energy technologies.In his talk, “Long Fuse, Big Bang: Thomas Edison, Electricity, and the Locus of Innovation,” Hargadon, who is the founding director of the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, explained the social and technical context in which electric light, and the modern electric power infrastructure, were born and its implications for managing innovation in science and technology today.

Tedx Sacramento: Rx for Innovation

New, radical, disruptive ideas are the foundation of innovation­—at least that’s the common assumption. But what if that’s wrong? If it’s not the new ideas, what distinguishes those individuals and companies that change the world from those that don’t? Hargadon tackled this question in a TEDx Sacramento talk in December. Looking at the most radical and disruptive idea in modern medicine—the advent of penicillin—Hargadon offered another perspective on what makes innovation work, and what we can do about it.

The Hargadon Files

Since May, Hargadon has partnered with Capital Public Radio, Sacramento’s NPR affiliate, to feature his blogs. His posts look at the hidden stories behind innovations big and small, going backstage to reveal what works, what doesn’t, and why, in the pursuit of sustaining innovations. Hargadon has commented on GMO-based foods; innovating in brownfield versus greenfield markets; the risk, uncertainty and challenge of sustainable innovation; and electric vehicles and iPhones.

Hargadon was among four “University Players” honored in November as AlwaysOn Power Players in Greentech. AlwaysOn described its first annual top 100 list as “the champions of entrepreneurship who are helping the Global Silicon Valley dominate today’s green technology marketplace.”