National Governors Association Summer Meeting

NSF plays an important role in the nation’s innovation ecosystem, investing in early stage research and even small businesses through our America’s Seed Fund or better known as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. These investments are sometimes unseen or even forgotten, yet they are vital to maintaining our nation’s competitive edge.

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Last month, I had the opportunity to talk about the role NSF plays in the innovation
pipeline with governors, entrepreneurs and visitors from other countries during
the National Governors Association (NGA) Summer Meeting in New Mexico. It was a
fantastic event, set against the backdrop of beautiful Santa Fe. Thanks to the National Governors Association and to Governor Sandoval for the invitation.

I was joined there by the founders of two cutting-edge startups – K&A
Wireless and UbiQD– both of which received seed money through NSF’s SBIR
program. Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy and provide
nearly half of private sector jobs.  NSF has a long history of not only empowering startup companies through our SBIR program, but also linking basic research with industry to speed the process of bringing valuable technologies, discoveries and products to market. On average, we support about 400 small businesses each year, and currently we have active awards in 47 states. Without the catalyst of our seed funding, these ventures
may have never taken root.

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Beyond our investments in small businesses, though, our support of fundamental research has enabled the creation of everything from 3D printing to Doppler radar. We helped shape the internet and supported the innovators who devised Google’s page-ranking algorithm. The smartphone in your pocket incorporates GPS, a multi-touch screen and lithium ion batteries – technologies that were all made possible by NSF funding.

NSF’s investments not only lead to technologies that change the world but also help fuel local economies and prepares the STEM workforce of the future.

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I was pleased to meet with fellow speakers, sharing ideas on how to inspire innovative ideas around the globe. I’m thankful to have connected with a delegation from Kenya,
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, secretary general of Germany’s Christian Democratic
Union, and Murat Sönmez, head of the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth
Industrial Revolution and Global Network.