features of the global economy.3 “A lot of countries are working extremely hard,” he said, “at making good the deficiencies in their innovation systems. And those efforts are of course shaping the international competitive environment.” He noted that a representative of IMEC, a consortium in Flanders, Belgium, that supported industry-government-university partnerships of many kinds, would address the symposium.4
A key finding of the STEP research, he said, is that partnerships—and the clusters in which they are embedded—are “sound in principle and effective in practice” when properly structured, funded, and managed.” They succeed by helping capitalize on a nation’s R&D investments through the accelerated commercialization of new technologies, he said. This process also contributes to national missions in health, energy, defense, and the environment.
Dr. Wessner noted that the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) is one example of an effective partnership. He noted that a recent assessment by the National Research Council found that the SBIR program stimulates firm creation. Over 20 percent of respondents to the NRC survey of firms with SBIR Phase II projects attributed the founding of their firm to a prospective SBIR award.5 The SBIR program also encourages collaboration between small firms and universities, he said, and brings innovative technologies to market. One such company is the A123 Systems that has developed an innovative advanced technology lithium-ion battery that may well power the next generation of electric vehicles.6
A sister program to SBIR is the Technology Innovation Program (TIP), formed when Congress modified the Advanced Technology
3See National Research Council, Innovation Policies for the 21st Century, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.
4See National Research Council, Innovative Flanders: Innovation Policies for the 21st Century, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008.
5See National Research Council, An Assessment of the SBIR Program, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008. In this volume, see Appendix A for the NRC Phase II survey methodology as well as the survey form.
6National Research Council, Building the U.S. Battery Industry for Electric Drive Vehicles: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities, Charles W. Wessner, rapporteur, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, forthcoming.