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Innovate, create

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Innovation, creativity power fresh thinking at Harvard

The heart pacemaker. Surgical anesthesia. Facebook. Even breathable chocolate.

Harvard’s combination of questing minds, passionate spirits, and intellectual seekers tackling society’s toughest problems fosters a creativity that has produced a stream of innovations, from novel inventions to history-making devices that provide profound benefits to the public.

Creative thinking is a key component of Harvard’s Schools, centers, and institutes. Many innovations have come from looking at old problems in new ways, from recognizing the importance of serendipitous results, and from understanding that failures are steps to success. That innovative spirit has long been part of Harvard’s DNA, leading to the first use of anesthesia at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 and the development of the pacemaker by Paul Zoll in the 1950s.

President Drew Faust highlighted this University role when she took office, noting that an institution of higher education has an “accountability to the future.”

“One of the most significant things about our research universities,” she told a gathering of civic and higher education leaders in Boston, “is that they are engines that also produce the fuel — the scientists, physicians, and engineers, the thinkers and ideas … that spur the new products, new jobs, and new companies that will help renew our economy.” continue reading