Dr. Wessner welcomed the participants, noting that some had travelled to wintery Washington, DC, from as far away as Brazil and Hong Kong. This symposium, he noted, is part of an ongoing study of State and Regional Innovation Policies by the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP).1
STEP is not only assessing how well the states and regions in the United States is doing, Dr. Wessner explained, but also it seeks to understand the strategies of other nations. “The time when we had no need to look outside our borders to understand best practices in innovation has long since passed,” he said. For this reason, STEP is also undertaking a study of Comparative National Innovation Policies.
STEP has been particularly interested in the topic of innovation clusters. Here, the methods and experiences of various U.S. states as well as that of other nations offer valuable lessons on how to convert the $150 billion the federal government invests annually in research into new products and processes for U.S. and global markets.
1 The STEP Board is conducting a series of symposia and workshops as part of a study called “Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State and Regional Innovation Initiatives.” The goal of this study is to identify best practices of private and public programs to strengthen industries, advance new technologies, and meet critical national needs. For summaries of some previous symposia, see National Research Council, Innovation Policies for the 21st Century: Report of a Symposium, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007, and National Research Council, Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices—Summary of a Symposium, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2009.
Dr. Wessner thanked the National Academies’ partners in the regional innovation initiative for their contributions. Without the “inspiration and encouragement” of colleagues at the Association of University Research Parks, the meeting could not have been held, he said. He also thanked the Department of Energy, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, as well as the Heinz Foundation, IBM, and Dow Corning for their sponsorship.