Bran Ferren

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Expert on Leveraging Curiosity & Creativity for Innovation; Designer, Technologist, Inventor; Co-Founder of Applied Minds; Former Disney Imagineering Executive

Biography

One of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” Bran Ferren is a master of the arts and sciences. Equal parts artist/designer and scientist/engineer, he is an expert on leveraging curiosity and creativity to inspire innovation.

Co-founder, co-chairman and chief creative officer of Applied Minds – a company that provides advanced technology, creative design and consulting services to a variety of government and commercial clients – Ferren is enjoying a distinguished career, contributing to business and product development, film and entertainment, aerospace and other sciences. Before co-founding Applied Minds in 2000, he held various leadership positions, including president of Walt Disney Imagineering R&D, the company’s creative design and engineering division, where he advised senior leadership on emerging technology opportunities and led the development of critical innovations for other divisions, such as ABC television. Prior, he was president and senior designer for Associates & Ferren, a company acquired by Disney.

A popular guest lecturer, Ferren is a dynamic and inspiring speaker with unparalleled knowledge and insight into the ways invention and innovation, creativity and technology interact for business success. He has addressed more than 200 professional groups in the business, education, scientific and entertainment communities – filling his presentations with concrete ways to redesign innovation processes, attract and motivate talent, ideas gleaned from the history of invention, and his vision for design and technology’s future. His 2014 TED talk, “To create for the ages, let’s combine art and engineering,” has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 24 languages.

Ferren focuses much of his time on innovation and organizational development projects that help organizations grow, move into new sectors, and redefine product offerings and brand positioning in the face of rapidly changing business challenges. He is also a prolific inventor, named on over 550 domestic and foreign patent applications and more than 220 issued patents. His latest vehicle project – the KiraVan – has been featured in Wired magazine, among numerous international publications and hundreds of websites. His recent design for the Genworth R70i Aging Experience has also received major media attention.

As a creative and technical consultant, he has developed numerous successful technologies, designs and innovations for World’s Fairs, theme parks, music tours, buildings, architectural buildings and interiors, command centers, special purpose vehicles and exhibits. Past and present clients include Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Sony, Herman Miller, Intel Corporation, Air Force Research Lab and the Library of Congress. He has also served as a senior advisory board member or consultant for science, advanced technology and innovation to more than a dozen U.S. government and military agencies, and the U.S. Senate.

An Oscar-nominated visual effects designer and Academy Award winner for Science and Technical Achievement, Ferren’s work has appeared in films such as Altered States and Little Shop of Horrors. Major theater credits include award-winning special effects, lighting and sound design for Broadway shows including Evita, Cats and the Lion King. Ferren has pioneered technologies for music legends as well, from R.E.M. and Depeche Mode to Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Paul McCartney.

Despite his wide and varied successes across industries, Ferren’s daughter Kira is his most important accomplishment, his highest priority project and, by far, his best work to date.

Bran Ferren is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Biography

One of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” Bran Ferren is a master of the arts and sciences. Equal parts artist/designer and scientist/engineer, he is an expert on leveraging curiosity and creativity to inspire innovation.

Co-founder, co-chairman and chief creative officer of Applied Minds – a company that provides advanced technology, creative design and consulting services to a variety of government and commercial clients – Ferren is enjoying a distinguished career, contributing to business and product development, film and entertainment, aerospace and other sciences. Before co-founding Applied Minds in 2000, he held various leadership positions, including president of Walt Disney Imagineering R&D, the company’s creative design and engineering division, where he advised senior leadership on emerging technology opportunities and led the development of critical innovations for other divisions, such as ABC television. Prior, he was president and senior designer for Associates & Ferren, a company acquired by Disney.

A popular guest lecturer, Ferren is a dynamic and inspiring speaker with unparalleled knowledge and insight into the ways invention and innovation, creativity and technology interact for business success. He has addressed more than 200 professional groups in the business, education, scientific and entertainment communities – filling his presentations with concrete ways to redesign innovation processes, attract and motivate talent, ideas gleaned from the history of invention, and his vision for design and technology’s future. His 2014 TED talk, “To create for the ages, let’s combine art and engineering,” has been viewed more than a million times and translated into 24 languages.

Ferren focuses much of his time on innovation and organizational development projects that help organizations grow, move into new sectors, and redefine product offerings and brand positioning in the face of rapidly changing business challenges. He is also a prolific inventor, named on over 550 domestic and foreign patent applications and more than 220 issued patents. His latest vehicle project – the KiraVan – has been featured in Wired magazine, among numerous international publications and hundreds of websites. His recent design for the Genworth R70i Aging Experience has also received major media attention.

As a creative and technical consultant, he has developed numerous successful technologies, designs and innovations for World’s Fairs, theme parks, music tours, buildings, architectural buildings and interiors, command centers, special purpose vehicles and exhibits. Past and present clients include Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Sony, Herman Miller, Intel Corporation, Air Force Research Lab and the Library of Congress. He has also served as a senior advisory board member or consultant for science, advanced technology and innovation to more than a dozen U.S. government and military agencies, and the U.S. Senate.

An Oscar-nominated visual effects designer and Academy Award winner for Science and Technical Achievement, Ferren’s work has appeared in films such as Altered States and Little Shop of Horrors. Major theater credits include award-winning special effects, lighting and sound design for Broadway shows including Evita, Cats and the Lion King. Ferren has pioneered technologies for music legends as well, from R.E.M. and Depeche Mode to Pink Floyd, David Bowie and Paul McCartney.

Despite his wide and varied successes across industries, Ferren’s daughter Kira is his most important accomplishment, his highest priority project and, by far, his best work to date.

Bran Ferren is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Innovate or Die? (Note: Dying is Easier…)

To survive and thrive in today’s economy, it takes a lot more than just clinging to yesterday’s strategies and hoping for the best. Change is all around us; mostly involuntary, driven by what is loosely described as the Digital Revolution, in which most of us participate, but few have the power to change. Decades-old companies are vanishing, placing enormous pressure on others still standing to become more innovative, rather than just more efficient. Bran Ferren explores the challenges to making this happen in large enterprises and offers new ways of thinking about organizational innovation. An executive and entrepreneur, technologist and inventor, Ferren understands the future belongs to brands that can rethink and re-imagine their core strategies by embracing change and taking intelligent risks.

Storytelling: The World’s Oldest – and Newest – Profession

Storytelling has been an effective means of communicating important substantive and cultural messages for thousands of years. Contrary to popular belief, it’s the oldest profession – and it’s experiencing a renaissance as contemporary companies and their leaders embrace storytelling as a critical component of both brand identity and business strategy in today’s evolving marketplace. Good leaders are good storytellers; yet, storytelling isn’t a skill taught in most leadership curricula. Expert storyteller Bran Ferren discusses strategies for discovering and developing your inner storyteller, and how you can use stories to forge deeper connections between people, inspiring them to engage and take action.

There’s No Bits Like Show Bits

Throughout history, the introduction of new technologies made the future seem confusing and disruptive to those standing in the middle of it. What does it all mean? Where do I fit in? As the digital age progresses, many of us in both the fields of media production and entertainment are asking these very questions. What’s different now is that the entire world is actually poised to be connected as never before, and traditional barriers to storytelling such as access, distribution cost and language are literally crumbling before our very eyes, creating a multitude of endangered species: newspapers, bookstores, record companies and traditional large-scale retailers. Simultaneously, new fields such as electronic gaming, online retailing, self-made music and video publishing are exploding. Bran Ferren delves into where this new normal is heading and what media professionals can do to proactively collaborate in a shared mission to reinvent the future.

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Ferren, Bran

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Bran Ferren: To create for the ages, let's combine art and engineering