Post-World War II era U.S. science, technology, and innovation policy has been defined by a linear approach to public investment in basic research. For many decades, this worked because the United States was one of the few countries with the technological capabilities to translate research into new products and services. But in today’s intensely competitive global economy where nations are fiercely competing for innovation advantage, this paradigm is no longer tenable. Robust public investments in basic research remain critical, but equally as important are investments and institutional reforms to commercialize new ideas from the laboratory into the marketplace.
To advance the debate on potential policy reforms, the House Technology Transfer Caucus, Co-Chairs Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, and Innovation Associates are convening a series of Capitol Hill briefings featuring leading experts in innovation policy.
The second of these events will examine the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories. The Labs are a key driver of energy innovation and represent over $14 billion in annual federally-funded research investment. Yet, as ITIF found in a nonpartisan study with the Heritage Foundation and the Center for American Progress, the link between the National Labs and industry is weak, technology transfer remains a low priority, commercialization programs are underfunded, and the Labs are disconnected from regional economic development. Furthermore, recent national recommendations from the Lab-to-Market Inter-Agency Summit sponsored by the White House OSTP and NIH called for greater incentives for National Labs to commercialize research and for placing a higher priority on commercialization. Reforming this system will be critical to enhancing the long-term impact National Lab research can have on addressing key national challenges. This panel discussion will evaluate these issues and analyze potential solutions.