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August 30, 2011 Vol. 4, Issue 6


Five underlying rules are critical to ignite the American innovation engine, according to MIT President Susan Hockfield.

Cameras inside of explosion-proof enclosures near Launch Pad 39-A .

Cameras inside of explosion-proof enclosures near Launch Pad 39-A .
Photo Credit: NASA APPEL

In an address to the National Governors Association, Hockfield described the conditions necessary for innovation to thrive. Using the case study of Yet-Ming Chiang, an MIT alumnus and professor who also founded A123 Systems, a battery manufacturer for electric vehicles, Hockfield spelled out the roles that academia, industry, and government have to play in stimulating innovation:

  • Rule One: Attract brilliant strivers and help them get all the education and hands-on experience they can handle.
  • Rule Two: Scientists and engineers can make great entrepreneurs – but an entrepreneurial culture helps them flourish.
  • Rule Three: Growing new ideas takes money – from the right source at the right time.
  • Rule Four: Innovation clusters are powerful – and they get stronger as they grow.
  • Rule Five: If we want to make US jobs, we can’t just make ideas here – we have to make the products here.

Hockfield also identified some of the challenges ahead, including making higher education more affordable, reforming immigration, advocating for federally funded research, and building dense research communities supported by universities, business and government.

Read the full text of Hockfield’s remarks.

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