Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, July 1, 2010

U.S. Commerce Secretary to speak July 13 at
innovation forum

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and several other senior Obama administration officials will participate in a July 13 forum, hosted at U-M, on the role of universities in innovation, economic development, job creation and the commercialization of federally funded research.

Scheduled speakers also include President Mary Sue Coleman and Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest. About 130 U-M faculty members and administrators, as well as regional business and economic development leaders, were invited to the forum by the Department of Commerce.

The invitation-only meeting is one of four innovation forums the Commerce Department is convening this summer. The University of Massachusetts Boston, the University of Southern California and the Georgia Institute of Technology are hosting the other events.

“U-M is privileged to be a host for this critical discussion, and our involvement reflects the increased role we are playing in galvanizing the regional economy,” says Marvin Parnes, associate vice president for research and executive director for research administration.

“By sharing successes and challenges with Commerce officials and other regional leaders across all sectors, we have the opportunity to improve the way universities contribute to job creation and economic development,” Parnes says.

Forum participants will discuss the capital needed to move an idea from the lab to the marketplace, university strategies to support commercialization, universities and regional economic development, and entrepreneurship education.

“We are committed to working with university leaders to increase the economic impact of our nation’s investment in research and development to help drive economic growth and job creation,” Locke says in a statement issued Monday by the Commerce Department.

Other Obama administration officials planning to attend the U-M forum are David Kappos, undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property and director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office; Travis Sullivan, director of the Commerce Department’s Office of Policy and Strategic Planning; and Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officer and associate director for technology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“The upcoming innovation forums are sure to advance the valuable dialogue already underway among administration officials, university leaders, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders as we work together to implement the president’s innovation strategy,” Chopra says.

In September 2009, Obama released his national innovation strategy, which is designed to promote sustainable growth and the creation of quality jobs. A key part of the strategy, according to the Commerce Department, is to increase support for fundamental research at U.S. universities by doubling the budgets of agencies such as the National Science Foundation.