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Entrepreneurial frontier explored in ‘Moonshots’

Image: Naveen Jain
Entrepreneur Naveen Jain takes a zero-G airplane flight. (Credit: Naveen Jain / Zero Gravity Corp. via Twitter)

BELLEVUE, Wash. — Seattle-area entrepreneur Naveen Jain is a big fan of moonshots — in part because one of his ventures, Moon Express, is gearing up to do honest-to-goodness moonshots. Jain also backs a “moonshot factory” called BlueDot. So it only makes sense that Jain’s newly published book, written with John Schroeter, is titled “Moonshots: Creating a World of Abundance.”

What does Jain see as the next frontier for technological moonshots?

“I think the next problem I want to solve is agricultural production and food,” Jain told me in the run-up to this week’s publication of the book. “We really believe there is no reason we cannot increase the productivity of our crops by adjusting the soil microbiome and the seed microbiome.”

That may sound like a tall order, considering that experts are sounding the alarm about potentially catastrophic food shortages by the year 2050. But Jain has faith that technology — and entrepreneurship — will find a way.

That attitude is reflected in the 59-year-old, Indian-born engineer’s career, including his sometimes-controversial stint as the founder and CEO of InfoSpace, his foray into space missions as the co-founder and chairman of Moon Express, and his CEO roles at the Bellevue-based BlueDot tech incubator and at its first spinout, the Viome wellness venture.

It’s reflected as well in “Moonshots,” which puts entrepreneurs front and center when it comes to saving the world.

“The book was written for entrepreneurs, and really, even our own kids,” Jain said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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