If you can dream it, you can build it...

Innovation Love Story: Charles Liao

Charles Liao shares his Innovation Love Story with InvenTrust, of how he is Working to Bring a Solution to Urban Air Pollution

China experienced the worst air quality in its country’s history in the winter of 2013, an airpocalypse, as some called it. And the problem is not confined to this one country alone. Co-Founder of Mila, Charles Liao who lived in Shanghai for over a decade and experienced urban air pollution first-hand shares his innovation love story, with InvenTrust, of how he is working to bring a solution.

The Story...

What is innovation, according to you?

To me, innovation is about creating value through change. Innovation can come in the form of a new product or design, business model, or methodology.


Even with so much of talks around tech. innovation, in a posthumous message during book launch, Stephen Hawking says science under threat. What does that indicate? 

Science has always been humankind’s way to seek universal truths through breaking down barriers and exploring new horizons. The problems we face are still universal – climate change, ecological disruption, exponential resource consumption – and these require a universal effort to resolve.


You have an idea that you’re sure of but you don’t know what to do about it. What should an innovator in such a situation do?

Trial and error. Innovation, like science, isn’t just about doing something with what you know, but acknowledging then solving what you do not know.


Your thoughts on the road ahead for blockchain and cryptocurrency? And some lines on how they are different from each other

As far as I understand, blockchain technology as a concept seems promising but there’s a lot of frayed groupthink in play and not enough clear leadership in place. Remember: the first mass produced EVs came out in the early 1990s, but it took 25 years to get us to a Tesla.


Which parts of innovation would you like to kill or eliminate?

None, though I’m less comfortable with some use of innovation such as surveillance and information manipulation. There is something ironic about technology one day hacking humans, not the other way around.


If you could only work on one project for a year to transform the world, what would it be and why?

Clean air or alternative energy. Air pollution kills more people per year than any war or famine. Millions of people die, and we are ruining our ecosystem. I’m proud to say we’ve been working on clean air since 2014 through Mila (www.mymila.co), our air purifier company named after my daughter. Perhaps it’s time to move onto alternative energy!