CEA’s Shapiro to speak on innovation as means to recovery


Gary Shapiro

Nick Glunt | Staff Writer

Gary Shapiro knows innovation.

Innovation is Apple Inc. Innovation is Amazon.com. Innovation is Google, Inc.

And what else do those companies have in common? The Consumer Electronics Association, of which Shapiro is president and CEO, gathers more than 2,000 electronics companies — including Apple, Amazon and Google — to provide market research and networking capabilities, as well as to host tradeshows.

Shapiro will speak at 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater. He is the first speaker on Week Eight’s theme, “Sparking a Culture of Creativity and Innovation,” and provides a bridge between it and last week’s theme, “The U.S. Economy: Beyond a Quick Fix.”

As author of the 2011 bestseller The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream, Shapiro said he has spent long hours contemplating this week’s topic.

“The book is timely because it was published in early January of this year,” Shapiro said, “and it foresaw a lot of the issues that have been talked about all year, frankly. No. 1 is the deficit and debt, and No. 2 is the importance of innovation and growth to help resolve that.”

Shapiro said the U.S. has a natural affinity with innovation. Thinkers from all around the world flock the U.S. for its universities. Furthermore, he said, Americans are born from “people who wanted a better way.”

The stance Shapiro advocates in his book is that of tapping into that inherent innovative prowess. Focusing on free trade and education, he said, can help to plan for the future.

These topics and more will be covered in his lecture.

“I would define innovation as doing something different that people are willing to pay for,” Shapiro said. “That’s the commercial definition of innovation — obviously, there’s all sorts of innovative approaches.”

Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s optimized search engines are all examples of innovation, he said.

Three years ago, Shapiro became one of the founders of the Innovation Movement, which declared innovation as a “key national priority to our economic success.” More than 130,000 people have joined the movement.

“Innovation is our career; it’s our culture; it’s our secret self,” Shapiro said. “It’s very critical as we move forward that it’s something we focus on as a nation if we are going to be able to restore our greatness and come back.”