Connecting People to Drive Economic Innovation
I also want to thank all the people who worked so hard to make this happen, especially Julie Lenzer and her team, including Eric Smith, Craig Buerstatte and Nathan Ohle. There are so many people involved in keeping NACIE going, and I deeply appreciate the important work they are doing.
While the purpose of NACIE is to help guide the U.S. Department of Commerce on policies and legislation designed to improve the innovation ecosystem in the United States, I think perhaps its greatest contribution is connecting people who share a passion for driving economic innovation to one another. I have had the pleasure of working with some extremely smart, vibrant, innovative people on the Council, and it is really those people who will make the long-term difference. Administrations change, and immediate priorities change, but I am confident that the network we have built — and continue to strengthen — will endure.
In fact, I have worked with some members of NACIE on projects and that ripple effect has enormous value because each of us — leaders in different types of organizations — can impact the lives of many people in positive, substantive ways. Advocating and advising is important work, but the real impact comes as the networks we have built drive change in our local environments.
We have done great work together over the past two years, and I am grateful for the help of Julie Goodenwardene and her team at the University of Texas who, along with Clemson, created an outstanding proposal for an Encyclopedia of Innovation Measures. It is difficult to improve what you don’t measure especially when you have no idea what the real target is. By providing easier access to important data related to innovation, the Encyclopedia can be a valuable tool. It is my hope that the next Council will continue this work and bring the Encyclopedia to fruition as a living resource.
In addition to the Encyclopedia, NACIE is engaged with many other projects that have significant value. From my perspective as president of a public research university, I especially appreciate the work others have done on Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding, as well as NACIE’s efforts to help build a better workforce.
A critical part of our mission in higher education is to do the research that drives the next generation of innovation, and ensuring that the SBIR/STTR programs continue is extremely important to our success in this area. Similarly, higher education is charged with preparing the next generation of leaders, and embracing new models of workforce development, as NACIE 2.0 has done, will be key for universities in the coming years.
Reflecting on my time on NACIE, I am grateful for the experience, the friendships and the conversations. One of the wonderful things about our country is that many people have the chance to help drive change in important ways, and I see my participation in NACIE as one way that I have been able to participate in this great democracy. I very much look forward to following the work of NACIE 3.0 and happily pledge my support to assist in whatever way the 2016-2018 Council needs.