Guest blog post by Commerce Assistant Secretary for Economic Development John R. Fernandez
On February 7, 2012, my colleague Phil Singerman, Associate Director for Innovation and Industry Services at the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, and I joined local manufacturers in Colorado to discuss lab-to-market strategies during an innovation and commercialization forum hosted by the Colorado Association for Manufacturing and Technology.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that “Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet.”
Manufacturers in Colorado and across the nation are developing new ideas, research and products to solve the pressing issues we face and create the jobs and industries of the future. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has been making smart investments to accelerate the process for taking research from labs to the marketplace and create jobs for America’s workers.These investments are beginning to show signs of progress. Over 3.7 million private-sector jobs have been added to the U.S. economy over the past 23 months, and the decline in the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent is very promising. But we must do more to put Americans back to work.
Promoting research and development is critical. Last month, the Commerce Department and the White House sent to Congress the administration’s plan on The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States, fulfilling an important requirement under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 which President Obama signed into law one year ago. The report shows that Federally-supported research has led to world-changing advancements in a variety of fields, including laying the groundwork for the integrated circuit and computer industry; the Internet; advances in chemicals, agriculture, and medical science; and GPS. Millions of workers can trace their industries and companies back to technological breakthroughs funded by the Federal government.
Coupled with private sector investment, government investments in the building blocks of innovation–research, education, and infrastructure–have helped fuel and sustain the ingenuity of innovators and manufacturers. The COMPETES report calls for sustained Federal support for basic research and robust efforts to transfer research from the lab into commercial products.
Investing in manufacturers across that nation is an important step forward and can lead to the creation of new American jobs and new American industries. As President Obama said when he was in Colorado a few weeks ago, our path forward must be focused on creating an economy that’s built to last. “An economy built on American manufacturing, more good jobs and products made here in the United States that we’re selling all around the world.”