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Technology Administration - "Partners on a Mission"

Remarks by Phillip Bond Under Secretary for Technology United States Department of Commerce

Delivered November 20, 2003 at the Report Rollout & Panel Discussion Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C.

Good afternoon. I am Phil Bond, Under Secretary for Technology at the Department of Commerce.

I would like to start by saying thank you to several people. First and foremost, thanks to Maryland Representative Steny Hoyer for making so many of the key points (in his remarks) that bring us together today and for making this room available to us today. Thanks also to the American Society for Mechanical Engineering (ASME) for partnering with us on today’s event. Thank you to our panelists, both for running programs worthy of praise and for contributions to this our report. I just want to make sure to thank the Maryland Technology Development Corporation and the State Science and Technology Institute, all key players in this challenge.

You’ve heard reference to the bureau at Commerce that I oversee – the Technology Administration. It has first and foremost one of the great crown jewels of the federal laboratory system – the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). I dare say the best of the labs, but I won’t assert that with this crowd. And we also have the National Technical Information Service and the Office of Technology Policy.

We are here today to look at a report done by the Office of Technology Policy, under our general mission of maximizing technology’s contribution to the U.S. economy.

The report that we are going to be looking at today, “Partners on a Mission,” examines the ways in which our federal labs #8211; as you heard Congressman Hoyer allude to -- can and do make contributions to regional economic growth. How can we increase that?

Federal labs do play an increasingly important role in local economic development because they are unique. They serve as the centers where highly educated experts get together with the very best, most innovative minds in the private sector. They have unique, perhaps world-unique facilities and capabilities, and they have a published mandate to transfer that technology as much as possible to the private sector.

Many labs are taking that and really pushing the envelope in terms of creativity -- with things like incubators, with mentoring of new firms. We’re going to hear about some of that today.

This increase in creativity could not come at a more important time. The global competition is getting tougher every single day. In once sense, this is good, as a rising economic tide around the world can lift all boats. But it means that international competition is tougher. Everybody wants to maximize technology’s contribution to their national economy.

So we must be as smart, as fast, as nimble and as innovative as we possibly can. We must use every advantage as much as we can, leverage every advantage as much as we can.

Our labs are a huge advantage. They are unique; they are incredible world-class facilities. Other countries simply do not have them, perhaps cannot yet afford them, and will take years to come within a country mile of our national labs.

So, given that competitive advantage, we want to leverage it to the maximum extent possible, including looking at creative ways to ensure that spillover tech transfer benefits help the local, regional economy.

I’m a great believer that our ultimate American advantage is in global competition. Americans innovate better than anybody else in the world. That’s a competitive advantage. We have facilities that are a competitive advantage. Put those two together and you need not fear global competition. Americans can win the global competition. It’s our ability to get to the top of that ladder. America adds another rung to the ladder. We just don’t stop and compete in a zero sum game; we add another rung to the ladder through innovation, and our labs are going to be critical to that.

Today we’re going to ask an expert panel to address some of the issues to attaining that goal of winning in international global competition. We are going to ask them to address three broad questions:

First, what is the single most effective thing that labs can do to support regional economic growth and competitiveness?

(Understanding that under the tech transfer mandate, they are already obviously contributing to the national scene. What can they do to hone in on the regional scene?)

Secondly, how do labs help support private sector job creation and preservation in this hyper-competitive global competition?

Third, what are the hurdles, what hinders labs from having greater impact on local entrepreneurship, job creation, and economic growth?

Those are the three main issues. They are critical, critical questions to winning, to moving forward, to having a country that creates American jobs based on American values so that we can compete in this global competition.

Thank you all for being here. Thank you for your contributions, and especially to our expert panel.

Before concluding, let me say two additional words of thanks.

One is to our team leader at Commerce on this effort – Doug Devereaux. If you haven’t meet Doug yet, please find an opportunity to do that.

And also a special word of thanks to Innovation Associates, Diane Palmintera, with whom we contracted for this study and whose excellent work led to this outstanding product. Thank you for all your hard work.

For technical questions concerning the Office of Technology Partnerships, contact us:
Office of Technology Partnerships, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Stop 2200, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-2200
Phone: (301) 975-3084, Fax: (301) 975-3482, Email: otp@nist.gov

Created: November 19, 2007