Insights into Innovation



By Wilson Farrar
ASK Silicon Valley

This is the fourth installment in a series of Insights into Innovation featuring interviews with some of HP’s top creative thinkers. Among them are Senior Vice President of Research, and Director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee, HP Fellow Chandrakant Patel, Director of the Social Computing labs Bernardo Huberman, Director of New Business Initiatives at Hewlett-Packard Andrew Bolwell, Vice President and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group Phil McKinney and CTO of HP’s EDS Division Russ Daniels.

This conversation is with Chandrakant Patel, HP Fellow and Director of the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab. The previous installments were with Senior Vice President of Research, and Director of HP Labs Prith Banerjee, Vice President and CTO for Hewlett-Packard’s Personal Systems Group Phil McKinney and Director of New Business Initiatives at Hewlett-Packard Andrew Bowell.

Innovation through autonomous thinking

Chandrakant Patel, HP Fellow and Director of the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Lab

Chandrakant Patel, HP
Fellow and Director
of the Sustainable IT
Ecosystem Lab

At HP, innovation and autonomous thinking go hand in hand. In fact, “autonomy of thinking” is what has kept Chandrakant Patel at HP for over twenty years.

Patel is an HP Fellow and director of the Sustainable IT Ecosystem Laboratory at HP Labs. He is currently working on one of his largest undertakings to date, “Sustainable Cities” (formerly called City 2.0).

Patel is considered by many to be a visionary. He is a key innovator at HP where he has gone from working on Chips to Cities having begun by working on flip chip packages and system design and now focusing on the sustainability of the world’s human-created ecosystems.

In the late 1990’s, Patel’s mantra was, “Data center is the computer”. He felt that energy should be managed as a key resource. But at the time, nobody got fired for using too much energy. That’s changed, and so has Patel’s thinking. Now, he says, “it’s not the system, it’s the ecosysem…made up of billions of service oriented client devices and thousands of datacenters.” The question for him became, “How would we use (the datacenter) to build the next generation city?”



What drives Patel is his desire to use engineering to help society. He is constantly asking himself the question, “How am I solving the fundamental problem that is addressing the needs of society?” For now, it’s Sustainable Cities.

When asked how he wanted to be remembered, Patel said that he wants to feel that he made contributions that will mean that his children and his children’s children will be able to live in a world without any degradation to their quality of life.

Let’s hope that Sustainable Cities will help.


For more information on Sustainable City go to: http://www.hpl.hp.com/news/2009/jan-mar/patel_interview.html