Currently, he directs a series of studies centered on government measures to encourage entrepreneurship and support the development of new technologies and the cooperation between industry, universities, laboratories, and government to capitalize on a nation’s investment in research. Foremost among these is a congressionally mandated study of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, reviewing the operation and achievements of this $2.3 billion award program for small companies and start-ups. He also is directing a major study on best practice in global innovation programs, titled Comparative National Innovation Policies: Best Practice for the 21st Century. Today’s meeting on “Clustering for 21st Century Prosperity” forms part of a complementary analysis entitled Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State & Regional Innovation Initiatives. The overarching goal of Dr. Wessner’s work is to develop a better understanding of how we can bring new technologies forward to address global challenges in health, climate, energy, water, infrastructure, and security.


Ken Zweibel is the founding director of the George Washington University Solar Institute. He has almost 30 years of experience in solar photovoltaics (PV). He was the program leader for the Thin Film PV Partnership Program at the National Renewable Energy Lab until 2006. The Thin Film Partnership worked with most participants in thin film PV (companies, universities, scientists) and is often credited with being crucial to the development of thin film PV in the United States. Corporate graduates of the Partnership include First Solar, Unisolar, Global Solar, and numerous others. Ken subsequently co-founded and became president and chairman of a thin film CdTe PV start-up, PrimeStar Solar. PrimeStar was subsequently purchased by General Electric and is now the feature company in its solar portfolio. In 2008 he became founding director of The George Washington University Solar Institute.

Ken is well known worldwide in solar energy. Recently, he co-authored a Scientific American article (January 2008) on solar PV and concentrating solar power as solutions to climate change and energy problems. He also has written two books and numerous articles on solar PV. He is participating on the Department of Energy “Solar Vision” activity, which is defining a pathway for solar to be deployed on an energy significant scale in the United States. Ken is a graduate of the University of Chicago in physics.

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