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Vivek Wadhwa        

Entrepreneur, Emerging Technologies Expert, Academic & Celebrated Author

Vivek Wadhwa is a globally respected voice on advancing technologies and innovation and was Silicon Valley Forum's 2018 Visionary Award-Winner. In the past, people who have won that esteemed title include Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Anne Wojcicki, and Tim O'Reilly.

Wadhwa is an entrepreneur, academic, author, and keynote speaker, wrapped into a wonderfully vibrant and charismatic package. His research is focused on the critical advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, computing, synthetic biology, 3D printing, medicine, and nanomaterials, and how these advances are creating disruptive changes for companies, industries, governments and the culture at large.

Wadhwa is a Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School's Labor and Worklife Program, where he is helping to lead a critical three-year research project on the effects of technology on future employment and work. This will be the first study on how technology will affect the core foundations of our economy.

He is also a Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University's College of Engineering, and he teaches on CMU's Silicon Valley campus about the latest exponential technologies, technology convergence and industry disruption, risks and regulation, and the new rules of innovation.

In the past, Wadhwa was also a Director of Research at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University, and Fellow at Stanford University's Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Harvard Law School, and Emory University. Remarkably, he has held as many as six simultaneous appointments at top universities.

Wadhwa's syndicated column for The Washington Post is one of the world's most popular columns on all things technology and innovation. His award-winning books include "Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain -- and How to Fight Back" and "The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future," in addition to "The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent," which was named by The Economist as a Book of the Year of 2012, and "Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology."

This talent for communicating the complexities of global technological advancements in simple, almost poetic ways have made Wadhwa one of the most in-demand keynote speakers in the world. He gives more than 100 talks every year to the most prestigious and powerful audiences, including world leaders, CEOs, industry organizations, universities, entrepreneurship groups, and a multitude of national science and engineering academies.

He started his career as a software developer and gained a deep understanding of the challenges in building computer systems. His experience as Vice President of Information Services at investment banking powerhouse CS First Boston (CSFB), spearheading the development of technology for creating computer-aided software-writing systems, was so successful that CSFB decided to spin off that business unit into its own company, Seer Technologies. As Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Wadhwa helped grow the nascent startup into a $118 million publicly-traded company.

The explosive growth of the Internet afforded Wadhwa with an even greater opportunity to help businesses adapt to new and fast-changing technologies, and founded Relativity Technologies. As a result of his vision, named Wadhwa a Leader of Tomorrow, and Fortune declared Relativity one of the 25 coolest companies in the world.

In 2012, the U.S. Government recognized Wadhwa with the distinguished title of "Outstanding American by Choice" for his "commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans." He was also named one of the world's "Top 100 Global Thinkers" by Foreign Policy magazine in that year; in June 2013, he was on TIME's list of "Tech 40" as one of forty of the most influential minds in tech; and in September 2015, he was second on a list of "ten men worth emulating" in the Financial Times.

Wadhwa holds a bachelor's degree in computing studies from the University of Canberra, as well as an MBA from New York University (NYU).

Speech Topics

Why Innovation Isnt Dead: A Look at Our Technology Future

There is a lot of pessimism about the future. Some people argue that other than advances in computer-related fields, technological progress has actually stalled outthe internal combustion engine, invented in 1876, still rules our highways; the cancer death rate has barely changed since 1971; todays Internet was actually designed in the 1960s. There are fears that world wars will break out over water and energy shortages and that our standards of living will drop.

This couldnt be further from the truth.

Vivek Wadhwa will discuss why he believes that this will be the most innovative decade in human history. He will explain how exponentially advancing technologiesin fields such as robotics, A.I., computing, synthetic biology, 3-D printing, medicine and nanomaterialswill enable us to start solving humanitys grand challenges.

These technologies will disrupt entire industries and provide opportunities to create new ones. For example:

Combination of 3-D printing and robotics will cause manufacturing to return to the U.S.

Advances in DNA sequencing and synthetic biology will make it possible to engineer drugs for the individual and create personalized stem cell lines

Autonomous, self-driving cars will revolutionize urban transport

Low-cost tablets and artificial-intelligence-based learning systems will change the teaching paradigm and bring education to the worlds masses

Star Trek-like tricorders, holodecks and replicators will become a reality

These advances arent going to come from governments and large research labs but from small groups of motivated people.

The Next Wave Globalization: China, India and How the U.S. Can Keep Its Competitive Edge in the Midst of Globalized Innovation

Academics, policy makers and business executives say that the U.S. is falling behind in math and science education and is losing its global advantage because China and India graduate more engineers. They cite poor test results, declining international rankings and decreasing enrollment in the hard sciences. They believe the remedy for U.S. competitiveness is to graduate more engineers and scientists.

America has reason to worry, but the problems arent its graduation rates or international rankings. China and Indias advantages are much different than we understand. They may graduate large numbers of engineers, but the quality of the education is so poor that they have to be retrained when they start work. To continue to lead, America has to focus on its core advantages and not try to be like its new global competitors.

Wadhwa will discuss:

  1. How global engineering graduation statistics are deceptive and India and China dont have the advantages they are believed to

  2. The on-the-ground reality in R&D and innovation in India and Chinahow India is becoming a global R&D hub despite its weak education system and how China excels in imitation, not innovation

  3. How Indian industry adopted the best practices in workforce development of western corporations and perfected these

  4. What the U.S. can learn from its global competitors

  5. How the university research systemone of Americas strengthshas major flaws

  6. Why immigrantswhich gave the U.S. its greatest advantageare now returning home

  7. What makes an entrepreneur and how we can fuel greater innovation

What Makes an Entrepreneur and How Can We Make More of Them?

The legends of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and other high-tech entrepreneurs have fed a stereotypical vision of innovation in America: Mix a brainy college dropout, a garage-incubated idea and a powerful venture capitalist, stir well, and you get the latest Silicon Valley powerhouse. Thats Hollywoods version of technological innovation; unfortunately, its also the one that venture capitalists try to fund and government planners seek to replicate. But these individuals are not Americas typical entrepreneurs and that is not the way to build innovation systems.

In this talk, Wadhwa will dispel some common myths such as:

  1. Americas typical tech entrepreneurs are in their 20s

  2. Entrepreneurs are like top athletes: They are born, not made

  3. College dropouts make better entrepreneurs

  4. Women cant cut it in the tech world

  5. The way to build an innovation system is to create a tech park next to a research university and to add industry subsidies and venture capital

He will detail the extensive research that his teams at Harvard, Duke and UC Berkeley have completed on what makes an entrepreneur, and the grand experiment that he helped launch in Chile to create an innovation system there.

Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology

Women in technology are on the rise in both power and numbers, and now it's more important than ever to not lose that momentum, to "lean in" and close the gender gap. Although they make up half of the population, only 14% of engineers in the United States are women. They take the seeds of technological advancement and build something life-changing, potentially life-saving. The future of technology depends on the full and active participation of women and men working together, and it is vital that women are both educated and encouraged to go into the tech sectors.

Hailed by Foreign Policy Magazine as a “Top 100 Global Thinker,” professor, researcher and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa, alongside award-winning journalist Farai Chideya, collected anecdotes and essays from global leaders and Vivek is now sharing how their experiences in innovative industries frame the future of entrepreneurship. Having interviewed hundreds of women in STEM fields, including Google[X] VP Megan Smith, venture capitalist Heidi Roizen, Patriarch Partners CEO Lynn Tilton, and entrepreneur and technology executive Kim Polese, this presentation offers a fresh perspectives on the challenges that women face, the strategies that they employ in the workplace, and how an organization can succeed or fail in its attempts to support the career advancement of women.


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