The 2015 Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty lecture, presented on May 17, 2016, addressed the topic “Anatomy of Invention.” Larry Howell focused on three principles—inspiration, collaboration, and exploitation—as important elements of innovation.
Howell begins with a story about a research project that was shut down because the European headquarters closed the entire division of the company that was funding the research. Howell’s team was able to consider other applications for the technology they were developing and happened upon artificial spinal discs. The inspiration was to apply a technology to a completely unrelated field. The collaboration occurred when a spinal biomechanics expert joined the BYU faculty. Exploitation came about when a business-savvy venture capitalist who had started several biotech companies entered the picture and they created a surgeon advisory board made from neurosurgeon experts from around the world.
The lecture then goes into greater detail in examining each of these three principles of innovation, using examples from origami, microsurgery, deployable solar panels for space applications, nanoinjection, high school basketball, and variety in hammers.
Origami Inspires Tiny Medical Devices
Anatomy of Invention, BYU Karl G. Maeser lecture by Larry L. Howell, May 17, 2016