Bridges vol. 41, October 2014 / Selected Readings
A selection of recent noteworthy publications in science, technology, education and innovation policy, and related areas.
Going Local: Connecting the National Labs to their Regions to Maximize Innovation and Growth
By Scott Andes, Mark Muro, and Matthew Stepp
Since their inception in the 1940s, the Department of Energy (DOE)'s national laboratories have been in the vanguard of America’s global research and development leadership. However, the national innovation system has changed in the past 70 years. Today, much technology development and application occurs in the context of synergistic regional clusters of firms, trade associations, educational institutions, private labs, and regional economic development organizations. Unfortunately, operating procedures limit the DOE labs’ ability to engage fully with the regional economies in which they are located. This lack of consistent engagement with regional technology clusters has likely limited the labs’ overall contributions to US economic growth. This brief argues that, in order to improve the impact of the national labs, DOE and Congress should improve the labs as an economic asset, open labs to small- and medium-sized businesses, increase the labs’ relevance to regional and metropolitan clusters, and provide greater flexibility in oversight and funding.
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
By Walter Isaacson
This book tells the story of people who created the computer and the Internet, and sets straight the history of the digital revolution. Isaacson answers the questions about the talents that allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their visionary ideas into disruptive realities and explains why some succeeded when others failed. The Innovators begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered the computer in the 1840s. Other key players in innovation are explored, detailing the personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page. This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It’s also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative. For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity, and teamwork, The Innovators shows how these qualities come about.
New Models for U.S. Science and Technology Policy: Restoring the Foundation
By the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Scientific and technological advances are fundamental to the prosperity, health, and security of America. Innovation and rapid integration of new knowledge and technologies emerge from investments in research and development, and rely on partnerships among universities, federal and state governments, and industry. Staying globally competitive will require a stronger partnership and a greater focus on long-term planning in scientific and engineering research. The Restoring the Foundation report offers actionable recommendations for the long-term sustainability of the US science and engineering research system to ensure that the American people receive the maximum benefit from federal investments in research.