Guest blog post by Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., MBA and Member of the Commerce Department's National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship
It’s an honor to serve with such distinguished members of NACIE and to
have a voice in this national conversation about innovation and
entrepreneurship. This is an especially
personal topic to me. Innovation and entrepreneurship are in my blood – and a
part of my heritage. I’m the son of international students from China who
sought – and largely achieved – the American dream in Delaware, where I grew up
and first discovered my love of science and technology.
Like the children of many immigrants, I was born with high expectations from my high-achieving parents. My late father was an accomplished DuPont polymer engineer, process inventor, and NASA Lifetime Achievement Award-winner. My mother helped found the University of Delaware’s clinical chemistry department. As you can imagine, there was a lot of pressure on me and my siblings to excel.
My work at the University City Science Center has reinforced my belief that innovation and entrepreneurship define the origins and values of America. After all, as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter will remind you, Philly was home to the original American start-up, our nation. My home city’s long and storied history of innovation that began with the Founding Founders continues to this day.
Between bifocals and the lightning rod, Benjamin Franklin alone, was a one-person innovation ecosystem! However, one person alone, or even one industry alone, does not an ecosystem make! Instead, innovation thrives in a rainforest-like atmosphere when disparate, yet related groups convene, connect and have the opportunity to collaborate.
Cities and regions are poised to be the defining platform to grow innovation ecosystems. They are the rainforests where these innovation ecosystems can thrive. They also provide a hospitable environment for scalable innovation. I believe that scaling – the process of transitioning from the start-up to the manufacturing phase in a company’s early life – is the key to fulfilling the promise of innovation and creating good jobs.
Think about it. What happens after an entrepreneur has guided his or her company through the startup phase? How do we scale up young companies so that as they grow, they create and sustain meaningful, high-impact jobs?
I bring this outlook and belief in the power of innovation and its ability to transform the world – and the world’s economy -- to NACIE. My goal is to serve and represent innovation ecosystems. No matter where you’re from, bolstering innovation and entrepreneurship should be the defining policy issue across our political spectrum. It speaks of opportunity, social mobility, social and economic justice, and the power of the free market.
I hope that NACIE’s focus on Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce/Skills will lead the Commerce Department and this administration to connect the dots between these pillars and develop high-impact, implementable policies and programs to ensure our country’s leadership and competitiveness for generations to come.