Bob Adams

Bob Adams consults and lectures internationally on the topics of sustainability, innovation and transformation with an emphasis on using a design-based process for identifying business and organizational opportunities, and envisioning strategies to achieve them. From 2013-2016 he served as the Director of Design Strategy at the Innovation Institute for Food and Health and as Executive Director of the Sustainable AgTech Innovation Center at the University of California at Davis. There he worked closely with researchers to translate research concepts from the laboratory into market-facing application to grow the innovation ecosystem for agricultural and food systems.

Previously he developed and led the Design for Sustainability initiative at IDEO, one of the world’s leading design consultancies, where he remains an IDEO Fellow. During Bob’s tenure at IDEO, he worked to broaden the context surrounding the human-centered design process and to incorporate this approach into the core competency of the firm. Trained in mechanical engineering, product design, and agronomy, Bob has been working on the integration of the design process with principles of sustainable development since 2000 when he joined The Natural Step and authored the formative white paper Designing Towards Sustainability. Throughout the 1990’s Bob led a research group at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto focused on improving human-computer interaction by leveraging sensory cognition and perception in digital experience. Bob has worked in the field of design for over 30 years, with corporate experience including Hewlett Packard, Interval Research Corporation, and J.N, Marshall Pvt. Ltd. (Pune, India). As a consultant he has advised such companies as Procter and Gamble, Cargill, Adobe Systems, Walmart, Nissan, Mars, Natureworks, and Pangea Organics on questions of the incorporation of sustainability into products, services, and business models. He has worked in the not-for-profit sector with such organizations as ACDI/VOCA, Sustainable Conservation, Meridian Institute, and Business for Social Responsibility.

Bob holds five patents and has been the recipient of several international design awards. Since 1985, he has taught extensively at Stanford University, the Royal College of Art, and UC Davis across topics of product and industrial design, design for sustainability, human-computer interface design, and technology studies. Since 1994, Bob has owned and operated a diversified small farm in the Sacramento Valley of California where he produces award-winning olive oil, organic vegetables, fruits, grains and hay.

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