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LAUNCH 2020 Summit: Genius

For the four LAUNCH founding partners, NASA, Nike, USAID, and State Department, LAUNCH is the Collective Genius for a Better World. Nike’s LAUNCH 2020 Summit is sheer genius!

“Our society has reached a point where its progress and event its survival depend on our ability to organize the complex and to do the unusual.” James Webb, former NASA Administrator

Last week, Nike hosted the LAUNCH 2020 Summit in “sunny” Portland  – and sunny it was, both in weather and collaborative engagement. The purpose for the Summit was two-fold: 1) introduce the new seven-year systems focus on materials, makers, and access; and 2) debut the LAUNCH 2013 Systems Challenge. Our last four challenges featured water, health, energy, and waste solutions. This year’s challenge is focused on materials – which are crucial for supporting life outside the protection Earth’s atmosphere – as well as for gravity-bound Earthlings.

LAUNCH partner Alan Hurd of State Department announces the 2013 Challenge

LAUNCH partner Alan Hurd of State Department announces the 2013 Challenge

One of the Summit’s highlights: Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP for Sustainable Business and Innovation, led a discussion about how creative humans can rise above the limits with certified limit-busters, Astronaut Ron Garan and Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson.

Ron Garan + Joan Benoit Samuelson + Hannah Jones discussing triumph over limits.

Ron Garan + Joan Benoit Samuelson + Nike’s Hannah Jones discussing triumph over limits.

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Astronaut Ron Garan

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Astronaut Ron Garan

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson

LAUNCH 2020 Summit video screen for Gold Medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson

Nike also featured an innovation showcase that included past LAUNCH innovations, Gram Power, Bioneedle, DTI-r, and “Born at LAUNCH” Carbon for Water  – among other innovations such as NASA’s Solar Sail and the Nike Flyknit.

Former LAUNCH Innovation: GramPower

Former LAUNCH Innovation: GramPower

Former LAUNCH Innovation: Bioneedle

Former LAUNCH Innovation: Bioneedle

"Born at LAUNCH" Innovation: Carbon for Water

“Born at LAUNCH” Innovation: Carbon for Water

The AWESOME-sauce Nike team created an immersive process called the Systems Innovation Experiment (SIX) to engage our Summit participants in a decision-making atmosphere that reflects fictional, yet realistic system choices. Team investment decisions were ranked in relation to profit, environmental impact, and social capital – with collaboration as the key to system change. The moral to the story: investments we make today greatly impact our future tomorrows.

Nike's Dave Cobban takes the stage to discuss process.

Nike’s Dave Cobban takes the stage to discuss process.

I was given the opportunity to share the “Why NASA” story on stage during the first day of the Summit. I was “set free” from a scripted speech (due to a glitch in the teleprompter), so I have no idea what I actually said.  But, here are the notes of what I planned to say. Hopefully, I hit some of these points from stage….

For NASA, we look at LAUNCH as a Collaborative Innovation Incubator. In addition to serving as an alternate means to uncover early stage technologies, LAUNCH has become a testbed for new and unexpected ways of doing business in the government. We’re incubating new methods and processes to:

  1. collaborate and partner with new communities outside our normal orbit of influence,
  2. innovate new solutions to a more sustainable existence off-planet, and
  3. broker ideas across diverse innovation clusters of creative thinkers.

Our mission is to enable off-planet citizens to live and work in the extremely hostile environment of space. Materials are key.

Think about it:  We take the materials for human existence with us when we leave our home planet for destinations beyond Earth – whether for orbiting outposts, planetary bodies, or asteroids. These materials must be reused, recycled, and recreated into anything and everything we need to fuel a self-sustaining biosphere – which could be a spacesuit, spacecraft or space colony. As you can imagine, resupply becomes less of an option the farther we travel away from home.

In essence: we need a fully sustainable, closed-loop system to support humans (on and OFF the planet).

At NASA, our issues mirror the struggles facing earthlings – scarce, dwindling, constrained natural resources – but our problem is magnified. We have no natural resources for our journey – except what we harvest along the way.

We’ve learned [during our occupation of Earth] that our ability to thrive as humans shouldn’t harm the planet that hosts us. Sadly, we have a parasitic relationship with Earth. What we want is a symbiotic partnership where Earth thrives because we live here!

 We see LAUNCH as the rocket fuel to reach this new reality.

Process talk: Nike's Santiago Gowland + NASA's Diane Powell + USAID's Will Schmitt + Nike's Hannah

Process: Nike’s Santiago Gowland + NASA’s Diane Powell + USAID’s Will Schmitt + Hannah Jones

With our LAUNCH 2013 Systems Challenge, I’m most excited about our potential to discover cool, futuristic multi-purpose synthetic or bio-synthetic, smart and/or self-healing materials, and technical fabrics with novel attributes that will enable makers (humans) to have access to the materials and data needed to make better choices for better lives.

Highest praise to Nike’s Santiago Gowland and his team for providing leadership for our LAUNCH shift toward systems thinking. Nike provided systems experience and research as the foundation for our new approach. The map below is just one glimpse of the work they’ve been doing with MIT to create a better understanding of the materials value chain.

LAUNCH 2020 Systems Map

LAUNCH 2020 Systems Map

As for the LAUNCH 2020 Summit, I have one word: WOW! The Nike team envisioned, produced, and magnificently hosted a gathering of system thought leaders to engage in the materials system, share expertise, and collaborate to bring about inspired solutions to intractable problems. I’m absolutely awed by Nike’s storytelling genius and professional muscle – crucial ingredients for the Summit’s success. They’re quite brilliant at leveraging the power of spoken word and compelling visuals. They created fabulous assets the LAUNCH team can use to help tell our story going forward, and inspired us to keep pushing through the pain – collaboration is quite messy, but WELL worth it! I’m honored to be part of the LAUNCH team and have the opportunity to take part in this process.

Nike "Word Power" Tower!

Nike “Word Power” Tower!

Nike, you guys ROCKet!! You’ve propelled us from a high school-level sports team to Olympic contenders – EXTREME performers of the magnificent kind!

Planetary CALL to ACTION: Earthlings, we need YOUR help. One of you has a mind-blowing solution to this challenge – one that we could never have imagined without you.  Please apply! If, by chance, you’re not the one, but you know who is, please share the LAUNCH Systems Challenge with your innovation networks. We can’t succeed without you.

"There must be a way to make the things we want, a way that doesn't spoil the sky or the rain or the land.

Sir Paul McCartney

Remember, we’re in this journey together. Help us create a planet-friendly future.

LAUNCH: Collective Genius for a Better World

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Search for LAUNCH:Health Innovators

We’ve been super busy planning our next LAUNCH sustainability forum. The topic for our second forum is “sustaining human life.” LAUNCH is our incubator program that searches for visionaries, whose world-class ideas, technologies or programs show great promise for making tangible impacts on society. At each LAUNCH forum, ten innovators and 40 thought leaders come together to address these sustainability challenges.

Often health isn’t considered a sustainability challenge, but think about it. What good is sustaining air quality, clean water supplies, and renewable energy sources if humans aren’t here to enjoy it? What happens if we’re not around to tell the story of humanity?

Sustaining quality of life for the human race is the ultimate challenge.

Astronaut Shannon Walker on Space Station using glovebox. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Shannon Walker on Space Station using glovebox. Credit: NASA

Human health is an important part of NASA’s portfolio. We strap human explorers (otherwise known as medical test subjects) to incendiary devices (otherwise known as rockets) and blast them outside our protective atmosphere.

Keeping astronauts healthy and safe = CRITICAL mission requirement.

Right now, our astronauts live off planet Earth for missions that last half a year. How the human body reacts to changes in gravity, radiation, and even psychological isolation, mirrors health issues faced by the rest of us who never leave the planet. For instance, we’ve learned the value of daily exercise in keeping bones strong during space missions — just like the need for exercise at home.

How we use technology to monitor and address health issues in the extreme environment of space has direct applications for use by communities living in remote locations on Earth — in developing countries or isolated regions.

@Astro_Wheels works on science freezer in Space Station Destiny lab. Credit: NASA

@Astro_Wheels works on science freezer in Destiny lab. Credit: NASA

Someday, we’ll leave this planet for longer periods. We’ll travel around the universe. We’ll set up colonies on other planetary surfaces. We already monitor maternal health concerns, with so many females in the astronaut corps. At some point, we’ll concern ourselves with child health — once they’re born on long-duration missions. Yes, it will happen.

The real question is: when.

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on Space Station. Credit: NASA

Astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson on Space Station. Credit: NASA

Fun Fact: I’ve been part of a long-term health study for the last 25 years. I’m a “control subject” for female astronauts.

LAUNCH: Health will be held in conjunction with the STS-133 Space Shuttle launch down at the Kennedy Space Center. We’ve been working closely with our founding partners USAID, State Department and NIKE, and our forum partners Vestergaard Frandsen and IDEO, to develop criteria to select the LAUNCH: Health innovations.

We posted the LAUNCH: Health call for innovators on InnoCentive as an ideation challenge. We’ll have the challenge open for 30 days. Your ideas can be social, policy or technology innovations that have potential for disruptive impact — in a positive way, of course. You will need to sign up as an InnoCentive Solver to post your solution.

Toms ShoeSocial Change: Personally, I think TOMS Shoes, as a business concept, is an amazing example of social innovation. For every pair of TOMS shoes purchased, a second pair is donated to a child. The simple act of wearing shoes prevents cuts that expose children to tetanus, as well as diseases like human hookworm and podoconiosis. My daughter Steph and all her friends wear TOMS, and request TOMS for birthdays and holiday gifts. They believe wearing TOMS makes a statement that they care about making the world better, one pair of shoes at a time.

TOMS One for One business model succeeded in:

  • creating awareness among those of us who have closets full of shoes,
  • changing attitudes, and
  • inspiring action.

In fact, TOMS birthed a movement. You can show your support by participating in “One Day Without Shoes” on April 5, 2011. Brilliant!

Toms Shoes Movement. Credit: TOMS

Toms Shoes Movement. Credit: TOMS

Aren’t you inspired? So, what do you have up your sleeve that you’re willing to share? Do you have what it takes to make a positive difference in world health? Get creative. I dare you.

Save the WORLD: one innovation at a time!

For more information about our first sustainability forum, visit: LAUNCH.org. (We’re busy updating the website to reflect LAUNCH: Health.)

Crosspost on GovLoop.

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