Ford Automobile Company recently opened a new research center in Silicon Valley. Last week, Ford joined UC Berkeley Engineering and Haas faculty to seek engagement for upcoming projects in the Silicon Valley. Ford’s vision is to expand and bridge the gap between user interface, vehicles, society, and big data––all through a multidisciplinary approach and experiential learning. As Ford grows their research team, they seek to move forward with more innovative ideas by partnering with tech companies in the Bay Area. Likewise, Ford hopes to partner with Universities and leverage their research findings. Ford executives shared their vision, and opened the discussion for an opportunity to engage and collaborate with UC Berkeley. Ford’s CFO, Bob Shank expressed an interest in partnering with universities that have interdisciplinary solutions for modern problems, and asked, how does UC Berkeley engage in such interdisciplinary solutions?

Professor Solomon Darwin shared about his most recent course: “Smart Cities Leveraging Open Innovation,” a course that plans to collaborate with other UC Berkeley Institutions, such as the School of Information for its data; the School of Engineering for their technology resources; and the School of Business for their Open Business Models. Similarly, he explained that the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation offers programs that are interdisciplinary, as collaboration and innovation are vital to be truly open. He later explained how Open Innovation can help a successful company move forward to create more innovative solutions. The roundtable attendees engaged in a lively discussion with a presentation on the benefits of Innovation and interdisciplinary work, a presentation that was sure to spark curiosity among all the attendees.