THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY
He concluded with some thoughts about the importance of the study. During an era of tight resources, he said, it was important to assure people that the public money going into the program, even though not large, was well leveraged by private resources. It is appropriate to ask how those resources are being invested, what the return is, and how to maximize that return.
The study also had an opportunity to shed new light on the “deeper” questions suggested by Dr. Wessner in his opening remarks, he said. “We are in an era of global competition. Our companies are competing with companies around the world. The MEP is one of the major ways in which we’re trying to stimulate our SMEs to be productive, to export, and to train productive workers. In this era of global competition, we need to ensure that the MEP is configured in such a way that it can meet not only these CURRENT challenges, but future challenges.”
Dr. Shapira reflected on the formation of the MEP in the 1980s, a program “that we’ve inherited and which we are now asked to address amid the much broader challenges of the 2010s. I think it’s appropriate to ask, how should it be configured as we go forward? Is it the right size? Should it operate differently? How should it be integrated with other programs? I think these are the questions that we need to think about if we’re going to be serious about global competition.”
Finally, he said, a general concern has spread through the country that the United States is less able to make things than it is to finance and sell them. “We need to ensure that the MEP is contributing to our national objectives,” he said, including the reversal of the current economic imbalance. “The MEP is a very concrete activity, and it can be a significant part of national strategy in the years ahead.”
Dr. Shapira then introduced Sridhar Kota of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).