The meeting on October 14, “A Call to Action: Advancing California’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Innovation Ecosystem,” brought together industry and education leaders to discuss reinventing K-12 education, more effectively integrating technology into the education process, and how regional hubs of applied R&D can enable institutions of higher education to work with regional companies and entrepreneurs.
“When students start school with a solid foundation, it translates into enhanced success throughout the entire education pipeline, resulting in a more college-ready workforce,” said Ken McNeely, president of AT&T California, who delivered the keynote address. “California companies have a vested interest in increasing their engagement with organizations that can make the greatest impact on our students and our future workforce, especially in high-growth STEM fields.”
In addition to the panel discussions, speakers included Rey Ramsey, president and chief executive officer of TechNet; Brian Steel, vice president of corporate development at PG&E; and CCST Board Member Warren Baker, president emeritus of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
“There are compelling reasons to address the fundamental issues of what it will take to create, attract and retain top innovative talent in CA,” said Baker. “Hopefully, new notions will emerge from these discussions, such as how to best bridge the gap between policymakers with a need to know and take action and S&T experts with the knowledge and ability to inform.”
In response to a request from 13 members of the State Legislature, CCST is conducting a comprehensive assessment of California’s science and technology innovation ecosystem – specifically human capital, investment, and infrastructure. The project will address how California can “innovate to innovation”, or i2i, by using the special resources and talent resident in the state and through partnerships which will likely foster the emergence of new ideas that will contribute to the economic development of the state. CCST will report on current global innovation systems and recommend to the Legislature actions that should be taken to sustain the state’s role as a global leader in science and technology.
The CSU East Bay meeting served as a starting point to help inform a series of small roundtable discussions held in late October at the UC Merced, CSU San Marcos, Stanford University, and CSU Los Angeles.
“The purpose of the roundtables was to stimulate the best thinking of leading innovators,” said CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood. “These meetings, along with the CSU East Bay meeting, were held in order to identify strategic directions that will be summarized for the Legislature and presented to the next Governor by January 2011.” The next phase of the project will involve a more in-depth analysis focusing on major opportunities to identify specific actions by industry, research and government to promote innovation solutions and economic advantages.