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Kellogg Professor Sergio Rebelo was among the speakers at the 2012 KIN Global Summit. Delegates included thought leaders from around the world and all sectors of society.

Kellogg Professor Sergio Rebelo was among the speakers at the 2012 KIN Global Summit

Innovation leads to action

Promising new ideas to build global prosperity gain momentum at the 2012 Kellogg Innovation Network Global Summit

By Adrienne Murrill

6/15/2012 - There aren’t many contests in which all the teams walk away winners.

Then again, the Kellogg Innovation Network (KIN) Global Summit is a place to expect the unexpected — and where new ideas can gain momentum and support.

KIN Global Summit highlights (.mov file)
KIN Prize finalists discuss the vision behind their ideas

The KIN Prize competition offered a total of $100,000 to four interdisciplinary teams of Northwestern students. Each team had assembled an action plan that would generate greater global prosperity. The roughly 200 delegates — thought leaders from around the world and all sectors of society — were allotted $500 each to bestow on the team of their choice.

Fresh Takes Kitchen, created by graduating Kellogg students Saloni Doshi ’12 and Chelsea Katz ’12, won $42,700 from the pool for their for-profit social venture, which provides fresh, wholesome and affordable meals to low-income communities. The rival teams also fared well: 

  • NuMat Technologies garnered $27,000 for its plan to harness nanomaterials for green power
  • Health m-Power attracted $16,400 to advance its creation of a mobile medical guide
  • Mimas Nanomaterials drew $13,900 for its plan to “upcycle” plastic waste into clean energy

All but one of the teams are already functioning as businesses, and the other is a nonprofit venture. The prize money will help each of these startups generate prosperity faster, said KIN Executive Director Robert C. Wolcott. “The KIN is about innovation and action. We want to help realize ideas for sustainable prosperity,” Wolcott said. “There are already a lot of business-plan competitions. We believe the KIN Prize to be the world’s first ‘action-plan’ competition.”
Delegates from far and wide

The award ceremony was the finale of the May 30-June 1 KIN Global Summit at the James L. Allen Center on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Now in its fourth year, the invitation-only summit assembled thought leaders from more than 20 countries to workshop ideas that would help to build global prosperity.

This year’s delegates included Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Norman Augustine, former CEO of both Lockheed Martin and the American Red Cross; Gordon Segal, founder of Crate & Barrel; and Jussi Pajunen, mayor of Helsinki.

Northwestern faculty members included Julio Ottino, dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science; Sergio Rebelo, the Tokai Bank Professor of Finance; and Carter Cast ’92, former CEO of and now a Kellogg clinical assistant professor of management. 

In his keynote speech on May 31, Hickenlooper talked about how government can support economic development, and shared examples from the Colorado Innovation Network (COIN), which was inspired by the KIN. More than half of the initiatives featured at this year’s global summit were born at past KIN summits.

Passion and strength
After lunch, KIN board members Betsy Holden, McKinsey & Co. senior adviser and former co-CEO of Kraft Foods, and Anna Catalano, independent director of Mead Johnson Nutrition and Willis Group Holdings, spoke on a panel with Howard Tullman, CEO and founder of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy. The group shared their visions for the future, as did Ottino.

“The power in innovation is finding people’s passion and marrying it with their strengths,” Holden said. “The implication is that their innovation will be much better. I personally believe it is the next wave of human productivity. When you put together teams where strengths are complementary, the team is stronger than the individual.”

The summit also provided time for inspiration, including the popular “Etudes for Innovation.” On the main stage of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, KIN Creative Director Jeffrey Ernstoff led KINians through his fourth annual exploration of innovation through the arts.

Synchronicity was a theme that played throughout the summit. On the opening night of the conference, groups of five delegates were given five minutes each to connect one another to people who could move another delegate’s mission forward.

Wolcott’s concluding remarks centered on this notion. “I saw it (synchronicity), heard it and felt it,” he said. “Remember, people only see the things for which they’re looking. And when you start to become aware of the things that are important, you’re more likely to see the opportunities.”