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25 Jan, 2012

New Report Highlights Role Of Universities in Entrepreneurship, Job Creation


LOS ANGELES and WASHINGTON, Jan. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The USC Stevens Institute for Innovation today announced a new report titled Universities in Innovation Networks: The Role and Future Promise of University Research in U.S. Science and Economic Policymaking by USC Vice Provost for Innovation Krisztina “Z” Holly. This is the fourth report in a series on U.S. science and economic competitiveness from the Doing What Works and Science Progress projects at the Center for American Progress.

The report outlines five key opportunities to tap into universities in order to stimulate economic growth, develop skills for a 21st century workforce, and build the technologies to advance our country’s competitiveness in manufacturing, energy, biomedicine, and other key industries. It also includes five specific policy recommendations for our nation to pursue in order to boost the global strength of our economy.

Download the report (pdf)
Download the introduction and summary (pdf)
Read the full report in your web browser (Scribd)

Recently, the Obama administration announced a proposal to reorganize federal agencies to create a focus on innovation and competitiveness. The new CAP paper series further explores the idea of government agency reorganization, as well as other building blocks of national competitiveness including a proposed “common application” to streamline the interface for small businesses in need of federal assistance, improvements to federal innovation statistics systems, high-skill workforce development, and university-driven technology innovation.

The report is part of a packaged set of policy proposals that the Obama administration and Congress can adopt to help the United States retain its economic and innovation leadership and ensure all Americans have the opportunity to prosper and flourish now and well into the 21st century.

Executive Summary

Universities play a vital and extensive role in driving innovation in the United States. They offer a vast research base (a total of $50 billion nationwide), the ability to teach and develop a fresh new workforce (3 million graduates each year), goodwill of successful alumni, ability to convene disparate expertise, and a deep commitment to local communities. Universities have been important players to date, and we have an opportunity to further nurture these vibrant ecologies to sustainably generate greater innovation and economic growth.

In the context of the declining state of innovation in the United States, The US has an opportunity to tap into universities in a variety of ways, among them:

  • Stoking the engine of innovation—supporting university research, the foundation for the most groundbreaking innovations and innovators that can create new industries
  • Supporting the flow and application of knowledge—bringing industry expertise to academia and reducing scientific risk to enable early discoveries to advance to the stage where the private sector is willing to invest and capitalize on them
  • Seeding innovation ecosystems—creating the culture, human capital, and connections necessary to form innovation networks where researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, manufacturers, and other research interests can collaborate and compete
  • Measuring for success—developing the right framework and infrastructure for measuring innovation to guide policymaking and investments
  • Preparing for shifts in competitiveness—rethinking assumptions and trying new approaches so that policy can drive new frontiers of innovation

Increasing globalization, connectivity, access, and acceleration of technology only make the need to invest in innovation all the more urgent. And ultimately, the nation must realize that the landscape is shifting, and what worked yesterday may not be as effective today, nor be the best approach in the future. The United States and its universities should not only accelerate its investments in research and innovation but also continually reevaluate and redesign the traditional mechanisms for doing so to prepare for the changing face of innovation long-term.

The report examines all five of these ways to stoke innovation through and around universities, relying on public and private sector support and collaboration. The report includes specific policy recommendations at the end of each chapter of this report, but here is a brief synopsis:

  • Increase investments in early-stage research, targeting part of these investments toward high-risk, large-scale, transformational projects, with an emphasis on the development of talent
  • Bridge the gap between early-stage research and the marketplace through policies that support technology transfer, programs that increase knowledge flow between academia and industry, and partnerships that support translational research and proof-of-concept projects
  • Refocus federal economic development funding on regional and local ecosystems that develop talent and create links between researchers and the private sector
  • Develop new, more comprehensive methodologies to measure the linkages between investments in innovation and the broader impacts in human capital, new products, and jobs to drive better policy decisions and incentives for innovation
  • Develop radical policy experiments and incentives to enable universities to be at the forefront of trends in innovation and competitiveness as the future mechanisms of innovation change

The report will demonstrate that these recommendations are definitively appropriate for the nation to pursue in order to boost the global strength and competitiveness of science and the economy.