This course may be taken individually or as part of the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation & Technology.
This course on technological innovation will be organized around three modules on (1) Data, (2) Theory, and (3) Application. In the first module, we will analyze new, large data sets on technological improvement, many of which were collected by the instructor and are the most expansive of their kind. We will cover statistical analysis methods and decomposition models in order to extract useful insight on the determinants of technological innovation. Examples from energy conversion, transportation, chemicals, metals, information technology, and a range of other industries will be discussed.
In the second module, we will cover theories, that have been developed in recent years and stretching back several decades, to explain technological innovation. We will cover the disciplinary origins of these theories, the empirical evidence for or against them, and the usefulness of these theories for practitioners from various fields including engineering, chemicals, private investment, and public policy.
Building on this insight, in the third module we will focus on applying the data analysis methods and theories covered to inform decisions about technology investment and design. The third module will address questions of specific interest to the class. This module will demonstrate the utility of the material covered and how it can be extended to answer a wide range of important questions relating to investment, research and development, manufacturing, and public policy.
- Developing understanding of how large data sets at various levels of detail can be used to gain insight on the dynamics of technological innovation
- Learning how to compare the rate of progress of various technologies and products
- Understanding the state of the art in theories of technological innovation, and their utility for particular questions faced in private industry and the public sector
- Learning how to apply data analysis and theory to guide investment and design decisions
- Gaining insight on technological innovation-related decisions faced in designing financial portfolios, research and development portfolios, and public policy
Who Should Attend
This course is designed for people working in industries such as chemicals, life sciences, manufacturing, investment, energy, and public policy makers.
Typical job roles will include:
- Research and development managers
- Production/manufacturing operations managers
- Executive level management in a variety of technology related firms
- Public policy makers working in technology-related areas
- Private investors interested in technology-related portfolio optimization
Laptops with a recent version of Excel are required for this course. Participants should have administrator privileges to install programs, as standard Excel packages will be installed and used. Tablets will not be sufficient for the computing activities in this course.
This course meets 9:00am-5:00pm each day.
Wednesday (Module 1: Data)
- Morning: Lecture on evidence of technology innovation. What does the data suggest?
- Afternoon: Guided exercise on analyzing technology improvement trends. Participants will work in groups and report back on their assessment of the rates of innovation across various industries.
Thursday (Module 2: Theory)
- Morning: Lecture on proposed models of technological innovation. How do we explain the observed evidence?
- Afternoon: Guided exercise on comparing the predictive ability of proposed models. Participants will fit the data with proposed models and test the performance of the models. We will identify and debate the best-performing models across various industries.
Friday (Module 3: Application)
- Morning: Lecture on applying insights from data and theory to decision making in private firms and government. How can we optimize technology design decisions and investment portfolios?
- Afternoon: Participants will optimize technology portfolios in a context of interest: engineering design, private investment, or public investment.
Links & Resources
- How To Make Technology Solve Big Problems? TEDx Cambridge
News / Articles:
- Your math about buying an electric car is probably wrong
- Shaping technology's future
- How to predict the progress of technology
- Innovation in renewable-energy technologies is booming
- Which technologies get better faster?
- Solar and wind innovation reflected in booming patents
- Seminar challenges with systems approach to climate change
- Study finds piece-by-piece approach to emissions policies can be effective
The type of content you will learn in this course, whether it's a foundational understanding of the subject, the hottest trends and developments in the field, or suggested practical applications for industry.
How the course is taught, from traditional classroom lectures and riveting discussions to group projects to engaging and interactive simulations and exercises with your peers.
What level of expertise and familiarity the material in this course assumes you have. The greater the amount of introductory material taught in the course, the less you will need to be familiar with when you attend.