Charles W. Wessner
National Research Council
Dr. Wessner welcomed symposium participants to what he said promised to be an intense discussion of the innovation policies of a diverse group of countries with a focus on the mechanisms used to help facilitate the innovation process. He observed that those in attendance, many of whom were intimately involved in the innovation process, knew the day’s topic to be complex and, at times, to be the subject of proposals that were ideological or simplistic. Because many countries around the world have adopted effective policies, it had also become increasingly urgent: Realization was growing in Washington, as it had in many other world capitals, that innovation and the mechanisms facilitating it are a key element in national growth and national competitiveness.
In fact, the entire world is focused on how to deliver the fruits of research through products and processes that both enhance welfare and generate wealth. In the STEP Board’s work with other countries it had become clear, Dr. Wessner said, that the problems and challenges facing India, the People’s Republic of China, Canada, Finland, Germany, and the United States were essentially identical, something without precedent in his own public life.
How do we capitalize our investments in research? How do we generate the type of students and the type of output from our universities that will help our economies to grow and to meet the challenges of the environment, of health care, and of providing a better life for our children? To discuss such issues, presenters had traveled to Washington from the four corners of the Earth. Dr. Wessner extended special thanks to Stefan Kuhlmann of the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in Germany, to Peter Nicholson from the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada, and to Hsin-Sen Chu of ITRI, Taiwan. He also expressed particular appreciation