Karen Lindquist stands smiling at the camera. She has shoulder length brown hair and is wearing a colorful patterned blouse.

Karen Lindquist: Chief Operating Officer, Green Stream Technologies Inc.

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Karen Lindquist to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.  

#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?

Karen Lindquist: Green Stream is an environmental sensing firm focused on flooding. Flooding creates safety risk and property loss for citizens, businesses, and government. IoT technology lets us place affordable sensors throughout a community and provide real-time situational awareness: where is it flooding and how deep is it? Data informs decision-making and enhances predictive models.

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

KL: We live in Norfolk Virginia. It floods often. When it does, traffic backs up, cars get stuck and are ruined. Our flood alert system is not specific enough to help us find a safe route. I met my partners Jim and Gary, who were doing a small IoT flood project for the city. We collectively saw an opportunity to save money and improve safety for many communities by monitoring and reporting all the trouble spots.

#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

KL: It’s hard to get a business off the ground without a good network. We’ve gained support, exposure and help, in countless ways by joining powerful networks at MIT Solve in Boston and the RIoT accelerator program in Raleigh.

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

KL: We love working at the intersection of emerging technologies, and we love that we are contributing to smarter, safer, more resilient communities.

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

KL: A STEM education is great and I would encourage more women to go into this field. A business education is valuable too. Women can be innovators at any age. My partners and I started this venture as grandparents. We combine our decades of experience with the energy and new ideas of our employees.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

KL: The world faces big problems that can’t be solved with the old business-as-usual. It’s “all hands on deck” for men and women of different backgrounds to work together, combining our strengths and blending our perspectives for true breakthrough innovation.

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Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.