Commerce.gov is getting a facelift soon. See the new design.
Syndicate content

Blog Category: Innovation

Why Investing in R&D Matters

BEA logo

What do the electric light bulb, the internal combustion engine and the transistor have in common? They are all examples of how innovative ideas can bring rapid change and growth to our economy. Innovation has long been recognized as an important driver of economic growth.  New ideas can spark wave upon wave of new goods and services that literally transform the economy, making it more robust and vibrant.

What exactly is innovation? A precise explanation can be elusive, but common to every definition is the idea of realizing commercial value by creating something that did not previously exist. And, while economists agree that innovation is important for economic growth, actually measuring it is quite a challenge. Innovation is what’s known as an intangible asset. It’s hard to quantify. Understanding the role of intangible assets–and thus the role of innovative activity in general–is critical to understanding the modern economy.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson Visits Manufacturing Facility in Columbus, Ohio

Secretary Bryson learning about the newest line of Entrotech lacrosse handles

Today, three days after attending the president’s State of the Union address, Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson traveled to Columbus, Ohio, where he toured Entrotech, a manufacturing facility, and met with local business leaders. The Secretary also toured EWI before giving brief remarks about the Department of Commerce’s focus on supporting American manufacturers so they are able to build their products in America and sell them everywhere around the globe.

Following his remarks, the Secretary participated in a White House Business Council Roundtable discussion with business leaders. The final stop was at the Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, directly adjacent to Ohio States campus, where the Secretary saw old innovations, such as one of the first Xerox copiers, to the latest technologies in development.

The Commerce Department’s SelectUSA program is helping ensure that more domestic and foreign firms are investing here in the U.S. We want to build on the momentum that we see in bringing jobs back. That’s exactly what companies like Entrotech are poised to do. They are generating innovative ideas on product design and development that can change entire industries, making them more globally competitive.

Acting Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank Visits Tech Town in Dayton, Ohio

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Inspects an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Two days after President Obama laid out plans in his State of the Union address to support innovation and bolster U.S. manufacturing, Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Tech Town, a premier commercial technology campus, in Dayton. There, she toured UA Vision and Persistent Surveillance, startup companies that are commercializing federally-supported research, and delivered remarks about the importance of investing in innovation and a skilled labor force to create jobs in a 21st century economy.

While in Dayton, Blank also participated in a roundtable with local business leaders to discuss how Department of Commerce resources can help them become more innovative and competitive. In addition, she toured the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory, a major area job magnet which conducts critical research and development work, among other services.

The Commerce Department is also working hand-in-hand with local companies to continue innovating and exploring. Through the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Commerce has worked with more than 300 companies in southwest Ohio. Commerce’s Economic Development Administration even teamed up with the state to help build Tech Town. 

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours CES Promoting American Innovation and Competitiveness

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank and Dean Kamen Listen on a Panel

On Thursday, Acting Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where she delivered opening remarks and participated in a panel discussion. The panel, titled “Getting Us Back on Track: How Technology and Innovation Can Save America” focused on the integral role innovation and technology play to the U.S. economy.

Blank said, “Innovation is crucial to the economy.  And while private citizens and private businesses are the primary source of new ideas—from concept to commercialization—the government plays a key role in this effort. The returns in new jobs and new technologies have traditionally far exceeded the money invested on the front end by the federal government.”

Referencing the recently released COMPETES report, Blank stated, “Only with a laser-sharp focus on education, innovation and infrastructure, will we build the basis for a 21st century economy that allows American businesses to flourish in an increasingly competitive global market. And only when American businesses flourish will we see the sort of job growth and income growth that assures economic opportunity to middle class Americans.”

Also while at the show, Blank toured the International Trade Agency’s International Buyer Program’s International Commerce Center and met domestic and foreign commercial service officers who assist American businesses in exporting. Afterwards, she presented an Export Achievement Award to Meridrew Enterprises. Meridrew Enterprises is a small, woman-owned company that is an industry leader in high performance screen cleaning technology. Their products have been used on the windows of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station.

Obama Administration Applauds Opening of Innovation Hub in Gainesville, Florida

View of incubation hub lobby from balcony

Guest blog post by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development John R. Fernandez

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe, and University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen, all gathered for the opening of the Florida Innovation Hub on January 11, 2012. I was proud to address the large crowd that was here to support the unveiling of a new tech business incubator that will help entrepreneurs, innovators, and start-up companies commercialize their research and bring it into the marketplace.

As Florida seeks to diversify beyond tourism and agriculture, and transition to a more innovation-based economy, the $8.2 million grant that the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) invested in the University of Florida in Gainesville to build this facility will promote a more diverse economy in the state. It will lead to the creation of new higher-skill, living-wage jobs that are vital to the prosperity of this region. This incubator is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $30 million in private investment.

2011: A Great Year for American Inventors and Innovation

Photo of USPTO Headquarters

Guest blog post by David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

As December draws to a close , it’s difficult to imagine a more historic year for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) than 2011. The dedication and hard work of our talented public servants has enabled the Agency to make significant strides in the quality, efficiency, and certainty of patents and trademarks granted to technological enterprises. And our collaboration with the small business community has allowed us to level the competitive playing field by offering new tools and resources for independent inventors to acquire intellectual property rights with more ease. As this year comes to an end, I want to take a moment to recount what our extended USPTO family has helped accomplish for American inventors and American innovation, through the lens of a few numbers and key dates that were important this year.

A Look Ahead to 2012: NTIA by the Numbers

National Broadband Map

In the coming year, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will continue its focus on three key areas: expanding high speed Internet access and adoption, freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband, and promoting policies that preserve the Internet as an engine for innovation and economic growth. Here are some numbers to illustrate these challenges.  Shown: National Broadband Map

Investments in the Seattle Region’s Innovation Clusters Spur Economic and Job Growth

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Matthew Erskine with i6 Green Seattle winners from Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College and Cleantech Open.

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

The Seattle region is noted as one of our nation’s hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship with world-class cleantech, health sciences, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing clusters. It is home to the headquarters of companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks and its regional assets are fueling job growth.

This week, I traveled to Seattle to spotlight Obama administration investments to advance these critical innovation clusters, promote entrepreneurship and small business development and create the jobs and industries of the future.

I met with the leaders of the Washington Clean Energy Partnership, awardees of the i6 Green competition. This collaboration between the Puget Sound Regional Council, South Seattle Community College, Cleantech Open and the Innovate Washington Foundation will work to foster collaboration between industry and institutions of higher education to expand the clean energy cluster.  This will spur the creation of new jobs, companies and export opportunities in the market for energy efficient technologies.

Driving Innovation and Economic Growth in West Virginia and Virginia

Erskine speaking from the podium

Guest blog post by Matthew S. Erskine, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development

Today, I had the pleasure of joining U.S. Congressman Nick Rahall at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia to formally announce a major EDA investment to create a new EDA University Center in Southern West Virginia. Following the announcement, Congressman Rahall and I engaged in a roundtable discussion with regional businesses leaders to discuss strategies to foster local growth and increase regional competitiveness.

Congressman Rahall was instrumental in helping Marshall University, Concord University, and the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing partner and apply to join the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) University Center program–a competitive initiative that awards grants to universities across the country to help make the resources of these institutions available to the economic development community.

Congressman Rahall said, “Placing faith and funding in American higher education is nothing new. In fact, it has a proven track record that continues to be the envy of the world. Not only did our land grant colleges and universities usher in the greatest agricultural economy the world has ever known, the first G.I. Bill equipped the greatest generation with the tools that crafted the world’s largest economy. Our training grounds, workshops, research and product development revolve around an alliance of business, industry and universities.”

NIST: Presidential Memorandum Outlines Commerce's Role in Speeding Tech Transfer

Young scientist works on a collaborative project

Accelerating innovation is the key to creating more high-wage jobs. And the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will play a significant role in helping federal labs and U.S. industry speed up the innovation process under a new Presidential Memorandum issued Oct. 28.

Through its existing role coordinating the Interagency Workgroup on Technology Transfer, NIST will help lead agencies with federal laboratories to develop plans that establish performance goals to increase the number and pace of effective technology transfer and commercialization activities in partnership with non-federal organizations. The group also will be responsible for recommending opportunities to improve technology transfer from federal labs and for refining how tech transfer is defined, to better capture data on all of the ways it happens.

NIST will coordinate development and analysis of appropriate metrics and will continue to report and analyze results through its annual report on technology transfer, which covers 11 federal agencies.

NIST has had its own success transferring technology, for example, one licensed technology is helping build a new confinement structure at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and another is treating heart arrhythmias and uterine conditions—and generating millions of dollars in revenue for the licensee. Free software from NIST, Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES), is helping architects, engineers and the construction industry select environmentally-preferred and cost-effective products.

Read more about NIST’s role in tech transfer in the latest issue of TechBeat.