Research shows that just a tiny percentage of technological innovations cross over to mainstream success, but that doesn’t stop entrepreneurs, inventors, scientists, corporations, investors and governments from pumping millions of dollars into emerging technologies in an effort to discover the next big thing.
“You see these bandwagons where we chase hot new technologies, but which ones will be viable, how they’ll be commercialized and when they’ll become mainstream is anyone’s guess,” says Laura B. Cardinal, Exxon Professor of Strategy at the A. B. Freeman School of Business and director of the Burkenroad Institute. “There are huge rewards but also significant risks, and lots of money gets spent in pursuit of the quest.”
For the 17th Annual Burkenroad Symposium on Business and Society, Cardinal turns the spotlight on three emerging technologies with the potential to transform life in the 21st century. “The Quest for Fool’s Gold: The Risks and Rewards of Emerging Technologies” will feature panelists David L. Carroll, director of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University; Stephen R. Connors, director of the Analysis Group for Regional Energy Alternatives (AGREA) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Thomas B. Clarkson, director of planning and business development at Wake Forest University’s Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
“Regenerative medicine is very hot, but we’ve just scratched the surfaced,” Cardinal says. “Nano is in everything now. It’s in medicine, it’s in solar, it’s in Kraft food packaging. People have no idea how pervasive it has become. It’s touching all kinds of products in our lives. And then we’ve have this whole quest for sustainable energy, whether it’s solar, wind, geothermal, ethanol or something else. These are people’s quests and everyone is working on this stuff anticipating the next big thing.”
Cardinal says the panelists, whose backgrounds span science, academia and entrepreneurship, will discuss what it will take to commercialize their respective technologies as well as take them mainstream. She says she hopes the symposium will attract entrepreneurs looking for new ideas as well researchers from local science, engineering and medical schools.
The Burkenroad Symposium will take place at on Friday, Feb. 26, at 10 a.m. in the Lavin-Bernick Center’s Kendall Cram Lecture Hall. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 505-865-5837 or e-mail Prof. Cardinal at email@example.com.