Opening Keynote


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Bran Ferren

Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, APPLIED MINDS

One of Fast Company’s “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. His 2014 TED Talk entitled “To create for the ages, let’s combine art and engineering” has been translated into 24 languages and viewed a million times.

Bran is co-founder, co-chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Applied Minds, a company that for 15 years has provided advanced technology, creative design, and consulting services to both government and commercial clients.

Previous to Applied Minds, Bran held various leadership positions, including president of Walt Disney Imagineering R&D, Disney’s creative design and engineering division. In his role as president, he advised the CEO and senior leadership on emerging technology opportunities and led the development of critical innovations for divisions such as ABC Television. Prior to that, Bran was president of Associates & Ferren, a company acquired by Disney.

Bran is a prolific inventor, named on over 550 domestic and foreign patent applications and more than 220 issued patents. He developed numerous successful technologies, designs, experiences, and innovations used in consumer products, theme parks, television, and film, arena concerts, buildings, aerospace, command centers, exhibits, and motor vehicles.

He has led many special purpose vehicle (and containerized) design and fabrication programs, for both government and commercial customers. These have been used for applications as diverse as film and video production, oilfield and geological exploration, anthropology, Rock & Roll touring, trade show exhibits, expedition vehicles, remote fabrication, security, lighting, and even transporting the Bill of Rights while on a 50-state national tour.

His latest vehicle project, the KiraVan, has been featured in Wired Magazine, international publications and is on hundreds of websites. His recent design for the Genworth R70i Aging Experience has also been receiving major international media coverage, and also appears extensively on the web.

Bran is also an Oscar nominee and Academy Award winner for Science and Technical Achievement, whose 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 EvitaCats, and the Lion King. Bran has pioneered technologies for music legends ranging from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, R.E.M. and Depeche Mode to Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Paul McCartney.

At Applied Minds, past and present clients include Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, Sony, Herman Miller, Intel Corporation, Air Force Research Lab, L-3 Communications, Genworth Financial, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress. Bran has been a senior advisory board member or consultant for science, advanced technology, and innovation to over a dozen U.S. government and military agencies and the U.S. Senate.


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