Technological Convergence and Innovation: Perspectives on 21st Century Technology

Dr. Malcolm Gillis (Former President & Ervin Kenneth Zingler Professor of Economics, William Marsh Rice University and TX-UK Collaborative Executive Director)

CA113, J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics, NUI Galway 11:30 :: 28th May 2010

“Perspectives on 21st Century Technology” will deal with three converging technologies that will materially change how we live, how well we live and how long we live. Some of these technologies are currently available or will be available in the near future; others will accrue over the next decade and still others some decades hence. For the foreseeable future, technological innovation will continue to be the defining factor in economic growth in developed economies. Technological innovation proceeds through many avenues sometimes involving disruptional displacement, sometimes through expansion of existing markets and, at other times, through entirely new markets.

The lecture will focus on technological change from an historical perspective and on the developments in biotechnology that have brought us stem cell biology and gene therapy. The biotechnology interfaces with information technology with many advancing the concept of biology as an information science will be explored. The lecture will continue with nanotechnology generally and how it may revolutionize the energy industry and materials science and, especially, its potential in health sciences. The lecture will conclude with the grand interface of biotechnology, information technology and nanotechnology which, in the future, promises to provide inexpensive and reliable spare parts for the body.

Dr. Malcolm Gillis: After distinguished careers in Harvard and Duke Universities Dr. Gillis served as president of Rice University for more than a decade and is currently a Professor of Economics at the university. He has dedicated more than 25 years of his professional career to teaching and applying economic analysis to important issues of public policy spanning nearly 20 countries. He has published more than 70 journal articles and authored several leading economic textbooks. He was co-founder and chair of the board of trustees of the Center for World Environment and Sustainable Development and the Duke Center for Tropical Conservation. For the past thirty years his career has been primarily devoted to university leadership, first at Duke University and then at Rice University. Before assuming his university leadership positions, he was a consultant on economic issues to organizations ranging from the World Bank to the governments of Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Indonesia and nearly a dozen others. From 2005 to 2008 Dr. Gillis was chair of BIOHOUSTON, an organization promoting Houston as a major center for the biotechnology industry. In 2008, Texas was ranked in the top 5 locations in the world for the development of the biotech industry. He provided the vision and leadership that brought together world class researchers in the top institutions in Texas with their counterparts in the top institutions in the UK, focusing their research efforts at the interfaces of the converging technologies of nano, bio and info. This collaborative model is now being adopted by other countries and regions including the European Union.

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