Senator Kerry Calls for Smart Investments and Salutes Council on Innovation Access Network

U.S. Senator John Kerry, keynoting the Council’s annual meeting for the first time since 1985, called on America to grow its way out of its economic doldrums and lauded the Council on a number of fronts, including the launch of the Innovation Access Network (IAN). Calling it a great privilege to speak before the Council’s membership, Kerry called the Council one of the most important groups in the state and its track record of accomplishment “really extraordinary.” He suggested that public-private partnerships like those the Council fosters in areas such as defense technology are exactly what the country needs to jumpstart its economy amidst fierce global competition.

Kerry pointed out that while China’s economy may be one-fifth the size of America’s, it will overtake us in 15-20 years, and that India poses a potentially greater long-term threat to our economic edge. He decried the caustic partisan gridlock in Washington, DC, and what he called a “phony” budget debate. Kerry pointed out that America is exceptional not by birthright of outcome, but by birthright of opportunity, and that opportunity has often germinated from the seed corn of smart federal investments. While the federal budget debate will no doubt focus on both spending reductions and economic growth, Kerry suggested we need to grow our way out of the deficit – as we did in the 1990s – fueled by a technology boom. “If we don’t fund NIH, NSF, and our universities, we’re not funding our future,” Kerry said. He added, “Investment is not spending when there is a greater ROI.”

Kerry pointed to ominous signs like China’s dominance of the clean tech industry and that $50 billion was taken out of the stock market last year and put into other countries. He bemoaned the nation’s limited investment in infrastructure (2% of GDP in U.S. compared with 9% in China and 5% in Europe), and pointed out Congressional advocates are fighting to merely preserve Amtrak while China is building high-speed trains that travel 300 MPH. He added that the U.S. Patent Office doesn’t have enough staff to process patent requests, stifling innovation.

Amidst this daunting environment, Kerry highlighted the Council’s Innovation Access Network (IAN) as a smart strategy by which to connect large technology companies with smaller innovative firms and accelerate economic growth. He noted it would be particularly helpful to strengthen the region’s defense sector connections as the region prepares for the next round of federal military base realignment and closings (BRAC) with the Council’s leadership. “We need to marshal all information well ahead of time to show our institutions are closely linked with one another.”

The Council will continue to work closely with Sen. Kerry as well as Sen. Brown and the entire New England Congressional delegation on a wide range of issues critical to growth in the regional technology sector from clean energy to defense. We salute Sen. Kerry for his leadership and willingness to engage the Council over his more than 25 years of representing the Commonwealth in the U.S. Senate.

UMass President Wilson Urges Council Members to Promote R&D

Dr. Jack Wilson, retiring President of the University of Massachusetts and a long-standing Council member, paid tribute to the Council for its advocacy of research and development funding and urged his fellow members to promote further funding at federal and state levels. He noted Council President Christopher Anderson’s advocacy to the Romney Administration to provide a $5 million matching grant for a federal research grant application that helped build momentum for the Commonwealth’s success in landing important university-tech industry funding from NSF for key national atmospheric and nanotechnology research projects. Wilson also noted that for the first time last year UMass received more than $500 million in research funding (see recent Boston Globe article celebrating UMass’s success in this arena under Wilson’s leadership by clicking here).

Wilson also highlighted the growing number of public-private research university collaborations taking root in the Commonwealth such as the new supercomputing center in Holyoke that resulted from a collaboration between Harvard, MIT, BU, UMass, Northeastern, EMC, and Cisco. He alluded to this as the kind of public-private partnership that the Council helps to promote and which is crucial to our region’s success in the knowledge economy.

Wilson, who plans to join the faculty at UMass Lowell as a tenured professor of emerging technologies in the College of Management upon handing over the reigns to former Towson University President Robert Caret, asked Council members for their support in three areas:

  • Ensure a high technology executive serves as a trustee of UMass, effectively encouraging members to urge the Governor to appoint a tech leader to the board
  • Continue to support state matching grants for federal research grant applications to keep us competitive with other states
  • Continue to support America COMPETES and related federal legislation promoting R&D

Council Launches Innovation Access Network

Following the annual meeting, the Council formally launched the Innovation Access Network (IAN) before a group of 60 technology executives. Jack Obusek, Director of the Natick Soldier Research, Development & Engineering Center and IAN collaborator, underscored the need for access to innovative technologies.

IAN empowers established and entrepreneurial technology providers to securely and efficiently share their innovations and ideas with prime contractors, government agencies, research laboratories, universities, and enterprise corporations to create new business connections and collaboration around critical innovations.

The Council has waived the annual fee for the first 100 innovators who create a profile on IAN.

To learn more about IAN and register your organization, please click here or visit www.innovationaccess.org.

Council Elects Officers and Board of Directors

Also at the Annual Meeting, the Council re-elected its officers and 29 board members for 2011. James Regan, Chairman, President, and CEO of Dynamics Research Corporation, was re-elected Chairman, and Jeff Ray, Executive Vice President, Global Operations for Dassault Systemes was re-elected Vice Chairman. Paul Gauron, Esq., Partner at Goodwin Proctor LLP was re-elected as Secretary.

For a full list of the Council’s 2011 Board of Directors, please click here.