Tapping the Economic Power of Innovation

This week CNBC is heading to Techonomy 2010," a new business conference in Lake Tahoe, Calif. that examines the economic power of innovation.

Businessman with crystal ball
Fredrik Skold | The Image Bank | Getty Images
Businessman with crystal ball

The three days of speeches and panels are organized by veteran Fortune magazine tech editors and writers, David Kirkpatrick, Peter Petre, and Brent Schlender, who founded Techonomy LLC. Their goal with the conference and their new venture is to identify and promote ideas and businesses that can create economic growth and solve global and environmental challenges.

We'll be reporting on the speeches from Microsoft founder Bill Gates and others, and panels on topics like "How Business Can Lead Us Beyond Fossil Fuels" and "Reinventing Productivity." I'll be roaming the halls, catching the entrepreneurs and innovators for interviews, and blogging about the big ideas generating buzz.

The subject matter is broad—from the opportunities and challenges of social media to the science and economics of life extension. But the philosophy boils down to one idea: that by inventing things, people create value and improve the world. And now, with the global economy searching for growth and solutions to problems like the gulf oil spill, the urgency to find technological solutions is greater than ever.

Techonomy 2010 is drawing the biggest names in technology and innovation, including Gates, the ultimate example of someone using technology to help the world. The list of speakers also includes Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Padmasree Warrior, CTO of Cisco , Citigroup's Chief Innovation Officer Deborah Hopkins, and Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn.


Attendees to the sold-out event include venture capitalists looking for the next big thing. Among them: Accel's Jim Breyer and Draper Fisher Jurvetson's Steve Jurvetson. They'll hear from innovators Dean Kamen, who invented the Segway, and the CEO of SecondMarket, Barry Silbert.

Representatives of major tech companies, including the CEO of Juniper Networks , Kevin Johnson, and Shane Robison of HP , will discuss how they're giving their technology the biggest-possible impact.

The conference integrates environmental and health care-oriented non-profits. We'll hear from the Gates Foundation'sPrabhu Pingali, who will speak about "Reinventing Sustenance," Zoe Baird of the Markle Foundation in a conversation on "Health not Healthcare," and from Jin Zidell of Blue Planet Network addressing the world's "Thirst for Water."

Bill Joy, a partner at Kleiner Perkins and a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, is an advisor to Techonomy, and will be speaking as well.

CNBC is a sponsor of the event, along with HP, Chevron, McKinsey, Intel , and others. Look for our reports on-air and online.

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