• Dr. Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs and dean of extended studies at the University of California at San Diego;
• Dr. Hank Wuh, founder and CEO, Cellular Bioengineering and Skai Ventures, surgeon and entrepreneur.
“We’re not alone in trying to reframe and move ahead with what we want to do,” she said. “The Council on Competitiveness, one of the influential groups in Washington, said the new normal for effective regional leadership starts with a combination of business, business association leaders, and regional economic developers.” She seconded Dr. Good’s remark earlier that no single group can do it alone. “We have to have a new connected partnership to make it work. Effective regional leadership requires an ongoing intermediary organization that keeps regionalism or, in our case statism, moving ahead. Innovation is a national priority, which the President has said consistently. This must be accompanied by measures that promote competitive markets, spur entrepreneurism, and catalyze breakthroughs for national priorities.”
This thrust was not unlike that of the new administration of Governor Abercrombie, she said, as described in the campaign document “A New Day in Hawaii.” A key point of this document is that support should go to the entrepreneurial professor to facilitate innovation and technology transfer, as well as to support premiere education and research projects. “Our state priorities echo national priorities.”2
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE INNOVATION COUNCIL
She said she would summarize the ideas in the report through its “four simple, straightforward recommendations.”
The first was to identify and clarify the status of research as an industry in the state of Hawaii. The university had grown from having a couple of hundred million dollars in extramural funds to nearly $500 million this year, with some uncertainty caused by the lack of an FY 2011 budget. “That puts the University of Hawaii and the state of Hawaii in the national ranking with respect to our faculty’s competitiveness, our institution’s competitiveness, and our state’s competitiveness for advanced projects,” she said. “UH wants to create world-class researchers in emerging or strong fields.” The university cannot be strong in all areas, she acknowledged, and needs advice about the best focus. It had gone through a similar exercise almost two decades earlier, when it decided to improve
2In highlighting the importance of research to the state, the council recommended that “UH put forth a strong recruiting effort to attract world-class researchers in special opportunity areas in which Hawaii has a strategic advantage over anywhere else in the world…such as astronomy, oceanography, and vulcanology.… Research is an industry and may become an economic sector in Hawaii, with UH as the R&D engine.”