Chris Cowart

Chris Cowart

Chris Cowart is an engaging speaker, facilitator and thought leader who leverages design and strategic thinking to provoke teams and industries to accelerate change through innovation.

Chris is currently the Managing Director of the SRI “NSIC” Innovation Center, partnering with Nomura, which launched in Q3 of 2021.The center is dedicated to accelerating the adoption of Silicon Valley’s disruptive technology innovation processes into corporate Japan.

NSIC will provide Japanese companies with a funnel for hands-on, open innovation from the Silicon Valley ecosystem. The collaboration connects Japanese corporations with Silicon Valley’s pioneering startups and R&D labs. NSIC also provides experiential education on technology trends, emerging business and financial models, innovation best practices, go-to-market strategies, and technology transfer frameworks.

Chris has been a user experience, design, and product executive over the course of his career. He has worked across brands, innovation consulting, and venture communities for more than 25 years. He is currently the Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at Treasure8, a food tech company leading a Resource Revolution® to bring disease-fighting, sustainable nutrition to a rapidly growing planet.

A formative part of his work experience includes 14 years at famed design and innovation consulting firm, IDEO. Here Chris pioneered the human factors and user research disciplines in the design industry, and launched many ‘first of their categories’ products for the company.

Chris fluidly spans the disciplines of user-centered design, product, partnerships, and business, and his continuous learning approach has allowed him to add new facets such as venture capital and future forecasting. As a thought leader on the future of sports and the future of medicine, Chris’ speaking appearances and publications focus on the leading edge of those fields. Chris has been a Venture Partner at Montage Ventures for 2 funds — in addition to his current role at Treasure8 — focused on disrupting retail, health & wellness, and consumer financial services.

Chris holds a degree from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, MS in Management, Sloan Fellow, and BS in Engineering Psychology (Human Factors) from Tufts University, Medford, MA

When not meeting with clients, entrepreneurs and collaborators over a coffee, Chris lives in Woodside with his wife, Tamsinn, an artist and interior designer, and his two daughters. He is also a competitive cyclist and a Naish kitesurfing ambassador wherever he can find the wind to fill his sail.

Sample Topics

Design Thinking

Learn and explore contemporary design thinking approaches from the perspective of a pioneering practitioner of human-centered design from IDEO.

Future of Food Systems

Our current food systems are broken in the sense they have been optimized for production over nutrition. Explore new technologies, supply chain dynamics, and startups disrupting the food systems.

The Truth about Moonshots

Not all moonshots are created equal. Let’s explore some key insights from launching moonshots on big, system challenges.

Strategic Workshops

Series of workshops which guide leadership teams through creating a future vision, pressure testing the dominant assumptions, and making strategic choices towards that new future.

CVC: is it investing, innovation or both?

Corporate venture capital can be a highly effective initiative in a multi-prong innovation strategy. The first hurdle is typically aligning intent around it’s desired outcome – learning, discovery or financial returns. Many teams are using CVC as another lever to determine future forces of change through the investing cycle in technologies and partnerships in adjacent commercial domains. For example, why would a food company invest in a bioreactor startup? They learned that future protein sources may be “brewed” not grown!

This session will lay out some important open innovation and venture practices and behaviors from example companies and investing teams. We will address how developing capabilities, like venture coaching, defining example pipelines, technology scouting and forecasting will enrich the CVC process and outcomes.

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