Hottest of the Hot: The Most Exciting Trends in Innovation Right Now

At the launch of Tribeca Film Festival's Innovation Week, a panel of leaders in NYC talked about what excites them most right now. Answers ranged from a crowdfunded virtual reality headset to a new way to think about our own identities.

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By Catherine Clifford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Innovation is the buzzword of buzzwords right now.

Everybody is innovating, or wants to be innovating, or tweeting about how they should be innovating, or Instagraming a picture of the innovative culinary concoction they had for breakfast. We are rethinking how we do what we do and who we are. And we are all sort of obsessed with the process.

At the launch of the Tribeca Film Festival's Innovation Week, which is under way right now in New York City, a gaggle of leaders in innovation shared what they are most excited about in innovation right now. Their answers range from new technological gadgets to new ways to think about our own identities.

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Here's a rundown of what they had to say. Consider this your cheat sheet to innovative innovation, or the hottest of what's hot right now.

Craig Hatkoff, co-founder of Tribeca Film Festival and Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards: "I just had a demo of the latest version of Oculus Rift and while I was somewhat skeptical of how impactful this would actually be...but when someone pays $2 billion for a company with no product ready for market, it sounds like a lot of money...For $2 billion, this may be the closest thing to the Louisiana Purchase that I have seen...when someone takes $2.5 million from Kickstarter, a pair of ski goggles and two iPhones and turns it into the most immersive experience you can possibly imagine, that feels pretty disruptive to me."

Rabbi Irwin Kula, co-founder of Disruptor Foundation: "The most interesting thing happening in innovation to me now is how people are innovating their identities. And what I call it is that people are mixing, bending, blending and switching in ways that are unprecedented in human history...It's happening in the way people are putting together their identities, independent of anyone external's coherence. It just has to be coherent to you. This is a radical way in which we are going to be living as human beings. Innovating identity."

Mark Payne, co-founder of innovation consultancy Fahrenheit 212: "We look at innovation and see there was this crazy bifurcation of capabilities for so long where there was the discipline of strategy and the discipline of creativity...and what excites me now is we are seeing this crazy convergence happening where the church and state separation is really disappearing. The young, creative people jumping into innovation, they want to see stuff happen, they don't want to fill rooms with Post-it notes and say, "Wasn't that fun?' They really want to see an impact...It's this giant mashup."

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Bre Pettis, CEO of 3D-printing company MakerBot: "Before we started Makerbot, we started this website called And, it doesn't make us any money. In fact it costs us a lot of money. But it's one of those things where you go to and if you are a designer, you share your ideas, you give them away for free, you let anybody download your designs. They can download them and make them on a Makerbot. And what ends up happening is when you give people a platform for sharing, they do wonderful and sometimes practical, sometimes completely absurd things. And there is something with innovation that is very close to the absurd. If you want to be more innovative, do stupid things. Do things that tickle your fancy -- that make you feel like, "This is probably a bad idea, but I am going to do it anyway. Ok, yes, I am going to add explosives to this project'...whatever your passion is, add 3-D printing to it, and something interesting will happen."

Tarah Feinberg, chief marketing officer of the innovation marketplace Kite: "For me it comes down to one word: it's about accountability. For me it's really about the fact that slowly but surely, on every level, of anyone touching innovation on a business level, it's no longer about shiny objects or a little spike in business results or a story that you can get published in the news next week. It's really becoming about outcomes."

Jeff Meleski, chief global growth officer of the consumer collaboration consultancy Communispace: "One of the most innovative things we see with the brands we work with is what we are calling the democratization of innovation. So it's moving from the few to the many or at least to the more. And what that means is we are thinking about organization's cultures and how they are embracing innovation to really be able to keep pace and be much more agile, as you think about their much more traditional software development companies, this idea of agility and innovating in an iterative, incremental manner that is really delivering against business needs, in real time, continuing to keep the brand current and relevant and moving ahead."

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Judith E. Glaser, chairman of the Creating WE Institute, author of Conversational Intelligence: "The idea of identities and new identities: there are actually places in the brain -- every time you chose a new name, you get a new title, you learn something new or you can actually see yourself in a new way -- you are creating a new identity inside of yourself. So the fact that human beings are now co-creating new identities, we are able to give new definition to each identity and release ourselves from the past. Most of our identities, we bring all that stuff from the past, right? So we are who everybody said we were or we weren't. But now with new identities, we are able to put new memories, it frees up our brain to give ourselves a boost to become something else that we never thought we could become before. So I highly recommend you think of yourself in new identities. Who do I want to be with other people and co-create in a completely frees your brain from the past, dis-attaches some of the things that are back here -- the amygdala hijacking that we get that stops us from doing things -- and actually frees us to garner new insights from others."

Hutch Carpenter, director at innovation management software company Hype Innovation: "Employees are starting to trust their employers a whole lot more around this innovation "thing.'...Employees are starting to be asked their opinion, their ideas. Their insight...what I am seeing over the last year, two years, three years, four years, now is a real movement to get a lot more from your employees, get them a lot more involved than you historically ever have. And it's healthy. It's healthy for companies because you are going to get cognitive diversity...we have different ways of thinking about things."

Related: What Motivates Entrepreneurs to Do What They Do? (Infographic)

Catherine Clifford

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC

Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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