The Next Idea

The Next Idea

From Michigan Radio

The Next Idea is a radio project devoted to innovation across Michigan. Each week, Michigan's most creative and visionary leaders share their best ideas for how to move the state forward.More from The Next Idea »

Most Recent Episodes

How schools of fish inspired scientists to harness underwater power

The Next Idea Earth's water is a natural medium for collecting energy, taking in about 97% of what we receive from the sun. After reflection and radiation, water stores over 2 million TWh (terawatt hours) per year. The world's annual energy consumption is about 150,000 TWh. Clearly, we could benefit from using water for power.

The $59 trillion dollar question: What will income inequality mean for the future of philanthropy

The Next Idea Michigan's philanthropic organizations are facing a changing climate of giving. Movement of money within the nation's wealthiest families, low wages for many of today's young people, political polarization and the erosion of government safety nets are just some of the many drivers impacting how people give and how charities organize themselves. Today's contributor to The Next Idea has been watching many of those trends and others that affect charitable giving.

The $59 trillion dollar question: What will income inequality mean for the future of philanthropy

When robots take more and more jobs, how will humans get paid?

The Next Idea What if governments just gave money to people? That's the big question that Thomas Weisskopf ​, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Michigan, is asking. Since automation is replacing human-powered labor in fields like manufacturing, robust employment may be a thing of the past. A permanent surplus of labor has massive consequences, driving down wages and even contributing to social unrest. According to Weisskopf, such a dramatic problem demands a dramatic solution.

Some games are over after one win or loss. Democracy is not that kind of game.

The Next Idea It's said necessity is indeed the mother of invention. Innovation is often born out of crisis or conflict – a war, a pandemic or a financial crash. Sometimes the conflict can be constructive, like the invention of a new miracle drug. And sometimes the conflict can be destructive, like, for instance, a contentious election.

Some games are over after one win or loss. Democracy is not that kind of game.

Traverse City energy could be completely renewable by 2050

The Next Idea Last month, Traverse City officials pledged that by the year 2020, all city operations will be powered by renewable energy . That means traffic signals, street lights, and city-owned buildings will get their power from wind, solar, and other clean sources. Kate Madigan , program associate with the Michigan Environmental Council and coordinator of the Michigan Climate Action Network , joined Stateside to talk about the ambitious effort and if this could be a trend for other cities in the state.

What's coming next in 2017? Hint: It's not autonomous vehicles

The Next Idea Can we stop with all the hype about self-driving cars? Yes, they're on the way, but not in the new year. Autonomous vehicles will indeed be part of the transportation landscape in the near future, but it will take decades to develop the infrastructure necessary to get these technologies in place. The more immediate applications for autonomous vehicles will be in freight management and delivery. Given how the volume of packages overwhelmed both UPS and FedEx this past holiday season, you can expect to see an autonomous truck coming soon to a driveway near you, though likely not this year. What will become closer to the norm in 2017 is ride sharing. For the past several years, city-dwellers of all ages have been using Uber and Lyft to get around. Many of the younger ones don't own cars and don't plan to. Ride sharing has now found its way to midsize cities and towns. This means city planners across the nation will have to rethink traffic flows, taxi stands and projections

In face of foreign competition, Michigan agency tries to save jobs by helping small manufacturers

The Next Idea The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition. Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is directing a federal program aimed at helping small local businesses adjust to that foreign competition.

In face of foreign competition, Michigan agency tries to save jobs by helping small manufacturers

"There's no time to lose:" Why Detroit should claim its leadership of mobility sector

The Next Idea The North American International Auto Show begins its media previews on Sunday in Detroit. The show opens to the public on Jan. 14. Along with the gleaming displays of new vehicles, the show will be a gathering place for innovators from many backgrounds, focusing on the future of mobility.

"There's no time to lose:" Why Detroit should claim its leadership of mobility sector

Library makerspaces help communities tap into joy of creativity

The Next Idea Over the past few years, makerspaces have become more understood – and popular. Think shiny industrial warehouses with 3-D printers, laser engravers and metal-working tools. And – of course – think groups of people. As our most recent contributors to The Next Idea explained, makerspaces can become crucial focus points for entire communities.

Kid-preneur introduces new lollipop that won't destroy your teeth

The Next Idea There's now a new way to enjoy candy – without the cavities and the tooth decay. " Zollipops " are 11-year-old Michigander Alina Morse 's creation. They're sugar-free and gluten-free suckers, made with natural flavors and colors, that are good for your teeth.

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