Curt Carlson at i4j: The Practice of Innovation

About Curt Carlson:

Curt Carlson was SRI’s President and CEO from 1998 to 2014. During this time SRI’s revenue more than tripled and SRI became a global model for the systematic creation of high-value innovations, such as HDTV, Intuitive Surgical, Siri (now on the iPhone), and other world changing advances. Mayfield Ventures partner, David Ladd, said, “SRI is now the leading company in the world at converting its technology into commercial value”. Carlson is a pioneer in the development and use of innovation best practices and an evangelist for innovation, education, and economic development, sharing best practices with government agencies, businesses, and foundations around the world. His insights on R&D and value creation led to creation of the Five Disciplines of Innovation process, used by companies, universities, and government agencies in the United States, Sweden, Finland, Chile, Malaysia, Japan, Brazil, and Taiwan. They are applying these innovation practices for growth, prosperity, and job creation. Before joining SRI, Carlson worked at RCA, GE, and the Sarnoff Corporation, which became part of SRI in 1987. In 1977 he started and helped lead the high-definition television (HDTV) program that became the U.S. standard and won an Emmy Award in 1997. Another team started by Carlson won an Emmy for satellite broadcast image quality in 2001.

He has helped form more than two-dozen new companies. Carlson was named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors in 2012. In 2006, Carlson won the Otto Schade Prize for Display Performance and Image Quality from the Society for Information Display with Roger Cohen. He served on President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Singapore National Research Foundation and Taiwan’s Scientific Advisory Board. In addition he serves on the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Engineering Advisory Council and has served on the Air Force Science Advisory Board, the Defense Science Board, various National Laboratory Review Panels, and the National Academy of Engineering Committee on Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation.

He has been on numerous commercial boards, including Nuance Communications, Pyramid Vision Technologies, Sensar, and Sarif. He was a member of the General Motors’ Science and Technology Advisory Board. Carlson has received honorary degrees from the Malaysian Technical University (MTU), Stevens Institute of Technology, Kettering University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he is a trustee.
With William Wilmot, Carlson wrote Innovation: The Five Disciplines for Creating What Customers Want, published by Random House and selected by BusinessWeek as one of the top 10 business books for 2006. Carlson received his B.S. degree in physics from WPI and was named in Who’s Who Among Students. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi and Skull. His M.S. and Ph.D. degrees were from Rutgers University. Carlson has published or presented numerous technical publications and holds fundamental patents in the fields of image quality, image coding, and computer vision.

‘New Narratives: Innovation for Jobs’ is a series by i4j (Innovation for Jobs) and the GPA exploring perspectives on important topics that will impact the future of work, jobs and employment.

Johnny Boston