revive its economy and maintain a standard of living similar to what we have today. He noted that the economic stimulus package then being designed in the Congress would be “neither the first nor the last,” but it was not addressing the fundamental framework in which innovation can flourish. “When a new [administration] comes in,” he said, “it will be obvious that this issue is an important one. Knowing what’s happening at the cutting edge, and how we can magnify that by an order of magnitude over a period of time, will tell us whether we are going to turn this economy around and maintain a standard of living similar to what we have now. This is an incredibly important exercise we’re going through.”

The second reason to pay more attention to innovation, he said, is that the world has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. The Internet has allowed business, education, and government to function in a more distributed way, and has enabled unprecedented collaborations between institutions and sectors. This country, he said, is in a position to nurture the companies that are on the cutting edge of technological practice, and this can influence how well the U.S. economy can compete in the future. But little attention has been paid on how best to nurture companies, or how to evaluate the results of those policies.

He recalled the roots of his experience in this arena during the Carter administration when he took part in a policy review of innovation. That was the stimulus for the Bayh-Dole acts, he said, and many subsequent policies of technology transfer and antitrust policies—“until the Internet came along. What we have to do now is figure out how the world has changed, how to communicate better in new ways, how to mine the new data we have, and how to share it using a common language and standards. What will that mean for technology parks, universities, government? If we could have everyone on that same wavelength we would have a tremendously different way of doing business.”


Robert McMahan

State of North Carolina

Dr. McMahan said that he works as senior science advisor to the governor of North Carolina and executive director of the Board of Science and Technology, which he called “the nation’s first state-level office of science and technology policy.” He said that while he has no direct role at the Research Triangle Park, he lives adjacent to it and “represents a constituency for the research park—those who are responsible for its funding and its promotion at the state level.”

He said he would “take a somewhat contrarian view” in the discussion. While most of the participants have focused on inputs to science and technology parks, he said that he would focus also on outcomes and outcome measurements. He said he would use the state of North Carolina to illustrate the complex and

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement