We need more Hyperloops
The hype surrounding the Hyperloop – a revolutionary new form of transport imagined by serial entrepreneur Elon Musk – indicates just how rare this type of big, ambitious project has become, says Nesta’s Stian Westlake.
In the Financial Times last week, our executive director of Policy & Research argued there's a darker side to the Hyperloop hype, which highlights the recent dearth of investment in innovation and an unwillingness to back potentially game-changing ideas from western governments and businesses.
He said: "The excitement that surrounded the launch is an indication of just how rare big, ambitious, technically groundbreaking projects are. We hunger for schemes like Hyperloop because we live in an age where businesses and governments alike seem gripped by a fundamental lack of ambition and a wilful blindness to the future."
Elon Musk's near supersonic, solar-powered Hyperloop works by shooting floating pods through a long tube, and would potentially offer a faster, safer, cheaper and more eco-friendly option than the high speed rail link currently in development in California, the Tesla co-founder said.
Stian warned that the current trend towards safe bets and short-term thinking could see the west missing out on big opportunities. In particular, he stressed how some of the last century's most important innovations came to life through governments' willingness to back bold new ideas - including the internet and GPS technology, both initially funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
We're working to encourage more future thinking in a number of ways - most notably, through our first ever two-day festival dedicated to imagining the future. Featuring performances, experiences, workshops and talks, FutureFest will bring together some of the most innovative thinkers, makers and performers on the planet to explore ideas and offer a taste of what the future might feel like.
FutureFest takes place on 28-29 September at Shoreditch Town Hall. To find out more and book tickets, visit www.futurefest.org
You can read Stian's Financial Times article in full online at http://www.ft.com/home/uk (registration is required)