Breakthrough Ideas: Hanauer, Hood, Myhrvold to Keynote Xconomy Event at UW

2/26/10Follow @gthuang

Entrepreneurs need to think bigger. Big companies need to think bigger. Everyone needs to think bigger. Including Xconomy.

That’s why we’re organizing our biggest event in Seattle so far, called “What’s Your Breakthrough Idea?” It’s on the afternoon of March 29 at the University of Washington, in the atrium of the Computer Science & Engineering building. Our theme will be how to recognize true breakthrough ideas in technology and business, and how to build scalable companies that really change the world—think Microsoft, Amazon, Google. (Registration info is here; the early bird rate ends early next week.)

We’re pleased to announce that Nick Hanauer will be giving the opening keynote. He is the co-founder of investment and strategy firm Second Avenue Partners, and, for anyone who doesn’t know, he was the first non-family investor in Amazon.com, as well as founder of Avenue A Media (which became aQuantive and was bought by Microsoft for $6 billion). In case he ever needs a soft landing, he is still involved with Pacific Coast Feather, his family’s pillow and comforter business. Nick helped to inspire our event with a talk he gave in 2008 on “breakthrough thinking and ideas” at an NWEN gathering.

The centerpiece of the event will be a keynote chat between Leroy Hood and Nathan Myhrvold. Dr. Hood is the famed researcher and entrepreneur who invented machines that made the Human Genome Project possible. He is the co-founder and president of the Institute for Systems Biology, and the founder of a new company called Integrated Diagnostics (which recently raised $30 million in venture capital). His counterpart, Dr. Myhrvold, is the former chief technology officer of Microsoft and the founder of Microsoft Research. He is the CEO and co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, a prominent company focused on the business of invention and on creating what he calls the “invention capital” industry.

We will also feature a number of talks that highlight specific breakthrough ideas and lessons for building companies around them. Our lineup of speakers includes: David Bluhm from Z2Live (social mobile gaming), Bill Bryant from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (“brave new world” startups), Christina Lomasney from Modumetal (nanotech for energy and safety), Mick Mountz from Kiva Systems (logistical robots), Steve Seitz from UW (3-D virtual worlds and computer vision), Dan Weld from UW and Madrona Venture Group (Web interfaces and knowledge discovery), and Norm Wu from Qliance (healthcare without insurance companies).

The event will be highly interactive: we want to hear lots of questions and discussion from the audience. There will also be plenty of time for networking. It’s an exciting time for the Seattle-area innovation scene, and there are a lot of great events coming up (more on those soon). We’re looking forward to seeing you on March 29.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang