September 28, 2017
(As prepared for delivery)
The United States recognizes that investments in fundamental research can lead to emerging technologies, and create ingredients important for innovation ecosystems to thrive. It is a goal to expand the number and diversity of innovation ecosystems, and one way to do this is through a variety and diversity of partnerships.
In the United States, government investments in basic science not only fund discovery, but serve to mitigate the risks of investing in innovative and forward-leaning ideas. The LIGO facility I mentioned in the last session is 20 years old, but we have been funding the gravitational wave research that led to developing this facility for four decades. A sustained financial commitment to high-risk-high-reward projects is key to realizing the benefits of the public investment.
So is international commitment.
The LIGO Scientific Collaboration is a group of some 1,000 scientists at universities around the United States and in 15 countries.
These investments required expertise from all sectors to design, fabricate, and operate the a large research facility in a complex environment. Yesterday, as we toured the France-Italy Virgo gravitational wave observatory, the director Federico Ferrini commented that running a large science facility takes the skills of a diplomat, a businessman, a highly technical expert, and a scientific researcher.
Our administration’s recent Research and Development Budget priorities statement reinforces a commitment to basic research, and directs us to prioritize funding basic and early-stage applied research that, supplemented by private sector financing of later-stage research and development, can result in transformative commercial products and services.
One example I would like to share from NSF is the Innovation Corps program, through which students are trained in entrepreneurship, or how to take research discovery to market. This program, only 5-6 years old, is now established in many universities and communities around the country, and has been adopted by several other federal agencies, States, and even other countries.
We have established numerous public-private partnerships across the spectrum of topics with industries and many philanthropic organizations for everything from computer science education and research to medical research to astronomy and astrophysics. Expanding and deepening public-private partnerships is a major goal of our agency and others.
We are pursuing emerging opportunities for new partnerships with tech companies such as Google and Microsoft in the areas of cyberinfrastructure, cloud computing and next generation learning environments.
These partnerships total in the hundreds of millions of dollars and significantly leverage our public investments. We look forward to continued discussions on how basic research funded through creative and beneficial
partnerships can support innovation and economic growth.