California’s innovation ecosystem achieved world leadership in the last century because of its system of higher education, high-talent workforce, advanced technical infrastructure, and enlightened policies. The state must take action if it is to maintain its status as the nation’s high-tech leader, according to a preliminary assessment from CCST.
“In the face of a statewide fiscal crisis and a rapidly changing global landscape, California needs once again to do what it does best: innovate its way to innovation,” stated the report. “The initial steps to explore these actions can be accomplished without a commitment of state funding, through reallocation of existing resources, philanthropic funding, and contributions of time.”
CCST released the preliminary assessment of California’s Science and Technology (S&T) Innovation ‘Ecosystem’ on January 20, offering a specific list of recommendations for legislators to enhance the state’s ability to foster and benefit from innovation.
The document was produced in response to a request from a bi-partisan group of California Legislators, which asked CCST to perform the assessment. The preliminary response coincides with the opening of the 2011 Legislature and the gubernatorial transition. A more detailed set of recommendations will follow in May 2011.
To prepare its response to the Legislators’ request, CCST convened a series of roundtables with academic, industry and research leaders across the state in late 2010 to seek their input on the challenges faced by California and possible solutions that could be achieved by building from California’s S&T capacity. From these meetings, CCST identified two key strategies essential to achieve this task:
The primary recommendation in the assessment is to bring together public and private leaders to focus on California’s innovation and competitiveness infrastructure. This ‘Innovation Action Team (IAT)’, comprised of leaders from universities, industry, and government, will be charged to develop an Innovation Roadmap that will include specific recommendations for improving California’s critical innovation infrastructure, according to the report.
The Innovation Roadmap to be developed by the Action Team will focus on four primary areas: an Innovation Initiative, which would build support for specific actions to promote the effective and timely translation of research into use (design to delivery); the development of Communities of Innovation, through strategic planning and investment; a California Education Innovation Consortium, an educator-driven alliance to fund, develop and deploy effective practices for K-16 digitally enhanced education; and an S&T-Based Water Roadmap, engaging a broad segment of California’s S&T community to innovate across the water system end-to-end, linking water and energy technology, agriculture and biotechnology, and climate and conservation strategies.
Establishing California’s priority to “innovate its way to innovation” is timely in light of recent passage of the federal America COMPETES Authorization Act of 2010, which is designed to increase federal support for research, science and innovation.