The ICS folks didn't make life easy for themselves by explicitly stating that they wanted "conceptual contributions". But looking over the list of papers, a few things come to mind:
- It's a great list of papers. Nothing to complain about really, and any of these could have been a credible paper at FOCS/STOC
- The Arora et al paper on designing derivatives using NP-hard problems has already received so much chatter, one might argue that the conference mandate has already been satisfied. Similarly for the quantum money followup.
- Even if the whole 'conceptual contributions' thing doesn't pan out, I see no harm in having a third conference inserted between FOCS and STOC - the more the merrier.
- I guess innovation = "game theory + crypto + quantum + misc" :)
Update: Shiva Kintali has PDFs for the accepted papers.