The Innovation Engine from CalTech

The Innovation Engine from CalTech

By   |  Oct. 20, 2020

This is an edited blog post submitted as part of the Pando Days wrap-up from Past the California Institute of Technology. We asked the Caltech team to reflect on their Pando Days experience and let us know what’s happened since the July Finale.

The Innovation Engine is a knowledge management and impact assessment system tailored for sustainability, and it’s the first of its kind. 

The system identifies needs and opportunities; facilitates collaboration between Los Angeles County and municipal agencies, NGOs, and others focused on developing or implementing solutions; and predicts the impact of action or inaction.

The prototype system is designed for Southland sustainability professionals, mapping the vision of the Our County Los Angeles sustainability plan to the agencies involved with the implementation, the specific actions to be carried out, and the potential impacts of those actions across many factors. The system offers real-time analytics and advanced modeling.

This project’s future relies on research and complex systems management. 

I’ve focused on surveying that research, since the Pando Days event. I received insightful feedback on my project, both positive extrapolations, and constructive suggestions. The feedback regarded the project’s scope and implementation.

Our next steps are to collect, sort, and analyze a tremendous amount of data. So, our biggest challenge is to condense all that data into a short, useful presentation. 

It will take continuous refinement to approach the right balance between intelligibility and useful information for a public audience.

The best part of this experience is working with passionate professionals who think in “out of the box” ways and want to make Los Angeles a sustainability benchmark. 

I hope that our city can become an example for others around the world to follow in the not too distant future. Alas, we still have a way to go.

If people want to help, they can email me at

Benjamin Fried is the Project Lead of the Innovation Engine at CalTech.