The National Academies
Dr. Wessner welcomed the guests from China and the United States assembled in the National Academy of Sciences to discuss building bilateral cooperation in science, technology, and innovation. Within these walls “we often talk about science and sometimes about technology,” Dr. Wessner noted. “We are learning to talk more about innovation.” He added that the National Academies Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP has a “somewhat unique mission” to integrate the diverse elements of science, technology, and economics in order to generate policy recommendations for the U.S. government. Many of these policy recommendations are adopted by Congress and the Administration.
Dr. Wessner noted that STEP has underway a comparative assessment of national innovation policies. This program is studying innovation policies of major nations, such as Japan, India, leading European nations and regions—and China.1
A real-world understanding of other nations’ practices and experiences is important for U.S. policymakers, Dr. Wessner said. “One of the things we struggle with here in the United States is that some
1For examples of previous comparative studies, see National Research Council, Innovative Flanders: Innovation Policies for the 21st Century, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2008. Materials from the September 24-25, 2007, STEP conference “The Dragon and the Elephant: Understanding the Development of Innovation Capacity in China and India” may be found at <http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/step/PGA_046383>.
people seem to understand the world better in theory than in practice. These people often have a powerful influence,” he stated. In comparison, STEP is looking less in theory and more in fact about what the rest of the world is doing.
The National Academies also is interested in expanding mutual cooperation. “With almost everything we need to do to make the 21st century a more prosperous century, safer century, and more environmentally friendly century, China and the United States must work together,” he said.
Dr. Wessner noted that this conference was organized with the assistance of Cisco Systems Inc. He also thanked the program’s other sponsors. They include International Business Machine, Intel, the Palo Alto Research Center, Sandia National Laboratories, the Office of Naval Research, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation. He offered special thanks to Patrick Keating, Cisco’s director of worldwide leadership education, “whose leadership and common sense have done a great deal to make this program possible.”
Dr. Wessner then introduced the keynote speaker, Ambassador Alan William Wolff, a former U.S. trade ambassador and chairman of the Committee on Comparative National Innovation Policies. Ambassador Wolff also is a research professor at the Monterrey Institute of International Studies and counsel at the Washington law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf.