The federal government is not the only source of policy actions that can enhance U.S. competitiveness. States and regions within the United States can also contribute to building their capacity for innovation.1 Areas of intensive innovative activity are scattered throughout the United States—often near major research universities—and all states are interested in strengthening these capabilities.

The ability of the states to drive innovation was the impetus behind a major workshop held in Madison, Wisconsin, on September 20-22, 2011. Entitled “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Developing Regional Innovation Environments,” the workshop brought together leaders in education, government, economic development, and industrial innovation to discuss state and regional initiatives to boost competitiveness through science, technology, and innovation. The conference—which was sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Morgridge Institute for Research, and the National Research Council—was organized around four major themes:

•  Revitalizing K-12 Science and Mathematics Education

•  Strengthening Undergraduate Education in Science and Engineering

•  Building Effective Partnerships Among Governments, Universities, Companies, and Other Stakeholders

•  Fostering Regional Technology Development and Entrepreneurship

The presentations given in each of these four areas are summarized in chapters 2 through 5 of this report. Chapter 6 provides a list of observations and recommendations made by individual participants in the conference’s final open-ended discussion. The report has been prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. The planning committee’s role was limited to planning and convening the workshop. The views contained in the report are those of individual workshop participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all workshop participants, the planning committee, or the National Research Council.


The conference was held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, which Judith Kimble, Henry Vilas Professor and Howard Hughes Medical


1 There is an extensive literature on state and regional innovation. One recent collection of insights and perspectives is Charles W. Wessner, Rapporteur; National Research Council. Growing Innovation Clusters for American Prosperity: Summary of a Symposium, Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2011.

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