Innovation is crucial for progress, but it must be sustainable. Sustainable innovation involves creating and implementing new ideas that not only benefit us in the present but also protect and sustain our future. To achieve this, we need to understand and prioritize the key basic elements that drive sustainable innovation: freedom, relationships, and fairness.

Freedom includes economic, time, and physical freedom. This enables people to think and act freely, and it plays a crucial role in creating innovative ideas. People can experience joy and satisfaction in creating and developing new ideas in a free environment.

Relationships are also crucial for sustainable innovation. When people establish relationships and actively communicate with each other, they can share more ideas and inspiration. The Silicon Valley and New York innovation ecosystems are prime examples of how diverse formal and informal meetings and communications can lead to innovation. To support such meetings, we need spaces like cafes and technical tools and infrastructure that minimize relationship costs, such as communication and transportation.

Fairness is essential for sustainable innovation as well. This means trading and handling the results of innovation fairly in the market. When ideas and intellectual property are protected and the outcomes of cooperative innovation activities are traded fairly, innovation becomes sustainable. Therefore, institutions, laws, and cultures that support fair trading and innovation are necessary.

To create a sustainable innovation ecosystem at universities, cities, regions, and countries, we must prioritize freedom, relationships, and fairness. It is essential that we check whether we have these underlying elements before we can build a sustainable innovation ecosystem. By doing so, we can create innovative ideas that benefit us in the present and protect and sustain our future.

© Dr. Young D. Lee

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