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The Future of American Innovation: Return on Investment

I’d like to share a little bit more insight into the initiative that we call ROI. And this was cued up by Secretary Ross this morning.

Our goal is really to move forward now on a comprehensive initiative, to drive an awareness within the nation of the issues around technology transfer and commercialization. Our goal is to not only understand where we are, but to really move forward on a pathway to the future. To streamline, to accelerate, and to fully utilize the benefits and the potential of the benefits of our R&D investment.

There's a website that's indicated at the bottom and also in some of your handout materials. And there'll be further information provided. A press release, as well as a Federal Register notice, will be issued within the coming days about our national conversation on the topic of U.S. innovation.

And innovation to me, and I think to many in the business community, is invention translated into value.

Value in the economy, value for people. This ROI is much more than financial value. It's so much about the vitality of our nation, about the power of our innovation ecosystem. It's about driving advanced manufacturing, it's about the workforce of the future. It's about engaging investors. It's taking large companies into a new journey of relationship with our federal laboratory community and with our universities.

It's creating small nimble companies that are willing to take the risks and to invest because they can trust in the intellectual property. And because they can believe in the license terms and conditions that they can chart a future course for value in the economy.

Our vision is quite simple. Unleash the amazing innovation power of America into our economy. The goal is to maximize transfer. It doesn't mean that we're picking winners, it means that we are allowing the opportunities to flow much more effectively in this nation. We're all about looking at the future of U.S. economic growth and national security through the promotion of the American innovation opportunities and to attract greater private-sector investment to create the business opportunities and products and services of the future.

Having spent time in the corporate sector as well as at our federal labs, and worked with many of our leading universities across the country. We have absolutely world-leading, amazing resources.

And since the Bayh-Dole Act and the Stevenson-Wydler Act, technology transfer has actually become a profession. It's become a career track for many. You'll see here a scene from one of my favorite spots. It's in the mountains of Colorado, and it simply says “unleash.” That means open it up, let it go and fast.

Andrei Iancu and I are both skiers. And we also understand that unless you stay in balance and control, you crash. And so here we're not talking about reckless abandon, and the federal government is certainly not known for reckless abandon either. But I think what we have now is a unique opportunity—it's recognized by our administration, it's recognized by the leadership in the Department of Commerce—a foundation of a strong intellectual property system and a strong technology transfer and innovation culture to be expanded within our nation's universities and best practices shared across the federal sector.

We're about imagining, what would America's innovation system be if we removed certain barriers? What if we removed uncertainty for investors, and for entrepreneurs and for corporations?

If companies knew that they could work with federal labs under business appropriate-terms. If they knew that they would have the support of the federal labs in driving their opportunities forward, where could we go?

Many of you may know that the Department of Commerce has stewardship responsibilities for the two key elements of the U.S. Innovation System—our intellectual property, our patent system, our trademarks, and also our technology transfer construct. There are people here in the room today who were here at the birth of this great initiative for the Nation, and so we seek to have a cross-agency effort to move forward around policy. We're the stewards of the Bayh-Dole, Stevenson-Wydler, and the technology transfer regulations.

What are the changes that perhaps are needed there? What are the authorities that are already in place and are not being effectively used, and should there be a charge, such as Secretary Ross shared this morning, much more clearly to all of our laboratory directors of their responsibility for federal technology transfer and for their part of the U.S. innovation.

The Federal Laboratory Consortium is an important part of this work, and our objectives are quite clear. Identify what's needed for the future and do so in partnership with all of our stakeholders. This is not only all of government, but it's a nationwide program. There's so many experiences that we have as a country.

We've also benchmarked how other nations have learned from us, and we from them. This is a great chance for America to move forward. The objectives are quite clear: identify those best practices, drive efficiency, reduce regulatory burdens, attract investment, model and attempt new approaches in public-private relationships. And ultimately, remove the barriers that hold America from continued leadership in the 21st century.

We've begun socializing this work over the past several weeks, and delighted at the response that we've received so far. This is our official launch event. Thank you for being here, and thank you all of our speakers, all of our panelists for being part of this session to share.

Our goal is following these sessions and the release of the information about the public forums, is to listen to you and to capture the learnings that you wish to share about what's proven to work and what can we do next. And then ultimately, to look at the future.

What are the policies? What are the procedures that should be implemented? What are the authorities that we already have that are not being used? And, are there certain regulatory or legislative changes that should be considered? We're open to all.

What is there to unleash? It's the power of the American innovation engine, it's the power of our minds. It's the speed of U.S. business. It's working in a modernized infrastructure for technology transfer. It's an environment of entrepreneurship building culture. It's part of the intellectual property system. Many universities and federal labs will pan only in the United States. And thereby, we teach the rest of the world without enforcement rights anywhere else.

We're all about reducing regulatory burden as wel, and I prefer anyone who's worked at the interface with the federal laboratory system. Sometimes it's a wonderful experience with wonderful people, but sometimes it takes longer than business really needs to achieve its results. There's more information available at the website for the ROI Initiative.

We're delighted to be working with OSTP, our partners across government, to move this initiative forward. Thank you.

Created June 14, 2018