It was generally believed that the current dynamic of the research enterprise cannot be sustained. Important changes are already under way in industrial laboratories, the U.S. administration is considering a new approach to science policy and new roles for government laboratories, and universities are experiencing considerable distress in trying to maintain quality and vitality in carrying out their responsibilities within the overall research system.

In this rapidly changing environment, new ideas and flexibilities are required, but the greatest need is a better understanding of how our national innovation system, which was greatly changed and vastly expanded after World War II, needs to be reshaped to meet the civic responsibilities of the science enterprise in the next decade. These are uncertain times, and we should prepare for a certain amount of inevitable insecurity, but we should not lose sight of the continued promise of the overall enterprise and the fact that it represents—if appropriately deployed—one of the greatest national assets we have.

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