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The Forum at the annual meeting on October 5, 2009 brought together the perspectives of experienced leaders of various sectors to the critical topic of unleashing engineering innovation in order to rebuild a real economy.
The United States is facing an economic crisis unmatched in recent memory. There is general consensus that this crisis was precipitated by building far too much of our economy on vaporous transactions that did not create real value.
To emerge from this financial crisis and set a sound 21st century course, we must turn our attention to unleashing technological innovation to create products and services that add actual value. As a nation we must refocus on the real economy, and that will require a reenergized innovation system to generate new knowledge and technology and move them successfully to the competitive world marketplace. We must become more productive and efficient at the things we already do well, create new industries, and transform others. We need to address energy, environment, security, and health care delivery in order to sustain our economic stability and quality of life. Our innovation system itself must evolve to meet these large-scale challenges.
President Obama recently noted that the horrendous loss of manufacturing jobs “underscores the importance of generating new businesses and industries to replace the ones we’ve lost, and of preparing our workers to fill the jobs they create.” Rising Above the Gathering Storm defined the necessary federal investments and policy changes to enable this, the NAE Engineering Grand Challenges and the Academies’ America’s Energy Future set the stage, and now we must focus on execution.
A distinguished panel (see below) explored the roles of academia, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, global corporations, challenge prizes, and governments in unleashing technological innovation to rebuild a real economy and meet 21st century challenges. They also shared thoughts about what new broadly empowering technologies may develop to facilitate economic growth.
Moderator: Ali Velshi, Chief Business Correspondent and co-host of Your Money, CNN.