Krisztina "Z" Holly is an innovation expert who lives, works, and plays at the intersection of entrepreneurship, technology, design, and academia. Holly served as vice provost for innovation at the University of Southern California and founding executive director for the USC Stevens Center for Innovation, where she lead a team of over 30 to help faculty and students across USC's 17 professional schools and the College to make maximum impact with their ideas -- whether as startups, nonprofits, new products, or licenses -- and to develop skills for lifelong innovation. She was the creator and curator of the first ever TEDx, TEDxUSC, which as of June 2012 had garnered more than 3.5 million views online and become a model for than 4,200 other TEDx conferences around the world.
Holly previously served as the founding executive director of MIT's Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, helping spawn nine startup companies that raised $40M in venture capital. Holly earned her master's and bachelor's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT and worked on the MIT Media Lab team that developed the world's first computer-generated, full-color reflection hologram. She also designed a robotic weld-seam-tracking system for the NASA space shuttle's main engine and created a head-eye robot for vision research at the MIT Artificial Intelligence laboratory before launching a career as an entrepreneur when she and two teammates founded Stylus Innovation and created the first Windows-based computer telephony development tool called Visual Voice. Stylus was acquired in 1996 by Artisoft, Inc. After two and a half years of documentary production in science and education at start-up RiverRun Media, Holly joined new search engine venture Direct Hit Technologies, which was acquired by Ask Jeeves in 2000.
Named by Forbes in 2010 as a Champion of Free Enterprise, Holly is a frequent lecturer and contributing columnist to BusinessWeek and the Huffington Post. Her columns have appeared in Forbes, the Economist, CNN.com, Dirt Rag, and Mountain Bike. She has been active in many board and advisory roles in U.S. and abroad, and serves on the U.S. National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum global council on entrepreneurship.
Follow me on twitter: @krisztinaholly