from the world's big
The Innovation Renaissance
What’s the Big Idea?
What do an art exhibit, live music, and a car manufacturer have in common? A lot more than you’d think. The Avant/Garde Diaries, a digital interview magazine sponsored by Mercedes Benz, just concluded their Transmission LA series at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The series was curated by Mike D. of the Beastie Boys and billed as a celebration of the latest and greatest in cultural aesthetics, with the primary purpose (unbeknownst to the attendees) to create a platform devoted to innovation.
The free-to-the-public event transmuted the MoCA into a hipster’s paradise. On display in the gallery was a collection that included artworks of all sizes and types, with everything from traditional paintings to virtual-reality-esque rooms reminiscent of the movie TRON. Thom Yorke of Radiohead and James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem threw down some memorable sets, and Diplo, Santigold, and Aloe Blocc also took part in the festivities. The idea, according to Mike D., was to create a “Six Flags for grownups”, and the LA community seemed to be in full support of that sentiment.
But more important than who and what was there was why they were there. The vision behind the Avant/Garde Diaries was to explore creativity through a “compendium of various, very personal perspectives that disclose new ways of thinking and spread inspiration.” As far as guiding visions for innovation go, this is spot on. The science of creativity is a blossoming field, and if it has taught us anything, it is that in order to innovate we must think different.
Steve Jobs fondly referred to engineers and scientists as artists; the only difference being the medium upon which they extruded their ideas. Jobs understood that at its crux, innovation is art. He recognized that innovation is imagining a new possibility or way of looking at something, and then figuring out how to move it forward into reality.
A key component of the process is connecting things that may not initially seem to be connected. As Picasso said, “good artists copy, but great artists steal.” If Kanye West and Steve Jobs have anything in common, it is their uncanny ability to steal existing ideas and make them better. This is exactly why festivals of ideas like The Avant/Garde Diaries are so powerful: they bring thought leaders from different fields together into one interdisciplinary exchange.
What’s the Significance?
The global connection of the web has done, and will continue to do, many great things for planet Earth. Futurist Kevin Kelly points out in his book What Technology Wants that “evolution has evolved its own evolvability.” With 7 billion people and counting connecting on a regular basis -- learning and collaborating across time, space, and levels and varieties of expertise -- we have entered an inflection point in history. Innovation is ubiquitious: we’re living the Renaissance 2.0.
Think about the implications when people all around the world are interacting, learning, and inspiring with the planet as a whole. It is, as Matt Ridley describes, the perfect bed for “ideas to have sex.” Jobs ingrained this notion into the culture at Apple, and it fuelled the company's extraordinary success.
Exposing oneself to new ideas and inspiring possibilities is the blueprint for creative success. It is the formula for how we invent, how we innovate, and how we progress. For companies and institutions to mimic the innovation that has taken place at Apple, they must be innovative about innovation. Mercedes Benz has set the standard and should be commended, but the Avant/Garde Diaries is merely a component within the larger continuum of innovation, and it seems we are just reaching the the tip of the iceberg.
Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.
Here's why you might eat greenhouse gases in the future.
- The company's protein powder, "Solein," is similar in form and taste to wheat flour.
- Based on a concept developed by NASA, the product has wide potential as a carbon-neutral source of protein.
- The man-made "meat" industry just got even more interesting.
Seriously sustainable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDIzNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMjM4NTMzMX0.BCEfYnn6C3z1zUHIS38xOWjXktgamNBi5iyqklSMYK8/img.png?width=980" id="ea524" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="50533380eeb18eb5833b6b6aa3abec38" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>Solar Foods makes Solein by extracting CO₂ from air using <a href="https://www.fastcompany.com/90356326/we-have-the-tech-to-suck-co2-from-the-air-but-can-it-suck-enough-to-make-a-difference" target="_blank">carbon-capture technology</a>, and then combines it with water, nutrients and vitamins, using 100 percent renewable solar energy from partner <a href="https://www.fortum.com" target="_blank">Fortum</a> to promote a natural fermentation process similar to the one that produces yeast and lactic acid bacteria.</p><p>When the company claims its single-celled protein is "free from agricultural limitations," they're not kidding. Being produced indoors means Solar Foods is not dependent on arable land, water (i.e., rain), or favorable weather.</p><p>The company is already working with the European Space Agency to develop foods for off-planet production and consumption. (The idea for Solein actually began at NASA.) They also see potential in bringing protein production to areas whose climate or ground conditions make conventional agriculture impossible.</p><p>And let's not forget all those <a href="https://www.bk.com/menu-item/impossible-whopper" target="_blank">beef-free burgers</a> based on pea and soy proteins currently gaining popularity. The environmental challenge of scaling up the supply of those plants to meet their high demand may provide an opening for the completely renewable Solein — the company could provide companies that produce animal-free "meats," such as <a href="https://www.beyondmeat.com/products/" target="_blank">Beyond Meat</a> and <a href="https://impossiblefoods.com" target="_blank">Impossible Foods</a>, a way to further reduce their environmental impact.</p>
The larger promise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MDI0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NjU4MTg2OX0.7dZZYT5WEV_EupBuLVFwHynarTiz8RYR9aJtC6Ts2C4/img.jpg?width=980" id="3415d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2e6eebe06d795f844752f9e9d30040d7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Solar Foods<p>The impact of the beef — and for that matter, poultry, pork, and fish — industries on our planet is widely recognized as one of the main drivers behind climate change, pollution, habitat loss, and antibiotic-resistant illness. From the cutting down of rainforests for cattle-grazing land, to runoff from factory farming of livestock and plants, to the disruption of the marine food chain, to the overuse of antibiotics in food animals, it's been disastrous.</p><p>The advent of a promising source of protein derived from two of the most renewable things we have, CO₂ and sunlight, <a href="https://solarfoods.fi/environmental-impact/" target="_blank">gets us out of the planet-destruction business</a> at the same time as it offers the promise of a stable, long-term solution to one of the world's most fundamental nutritional needs.</p>
Solar Foods' timetable<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTk0MTEzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5OTU1OTMwMn0.wnXh56iO_77x2XKV2uIPf78BKw4AJLUpmiyq_JBVGvo/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=172%2C146%2C62%2C135&height=700" id="0297c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="125c9a98ec818f5c241fa28ef1423e67" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Lubsan / Shutterstock / Big Think<p>While company plans are always moderated by unforeseen events — including the availability of sufficient funding — Solar Foods plans a global commercial rollout for Solein in 2021 and to be producing two million meals annually, with a revenue of $800 million to $1.2 billion by 2023. By 2050, they hope to be providing sustenance to 9 billion people as part of a $500 billion protein market.</p><p>The project began in 2018, and this year, they anticipate achieving three things: Launching Solein (check), beginning the approval process certifying its safety as a Novel Food in the EU, and publishing plans for a 1,000-metric ton-per-year factory capable of producing 500 million meals annually.</p>
The protein powder Solein. Image source: SOLAR FOODS
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