Chairman Rockefeller's Remarks on Research Parks and Job Creation: Innovation Through Cooperation

December 9, 2009

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C.—There is tremendous potential in our research parks. Around the country, we have laid a foundation for powerful innovation through cooperation – now we must strengthen and build on it.

It is no surprise that research parks have become a popular tool for communities eager to accelerate economic growth, stay competitive, and create jobs. They provide the kind of infrastructure and services that universities, research laboratories, and businesses can use to collaborate and commercialize high-tech products and services.

In my own state, West Virginia, we are exploring and establishing just these kinds of partnerships. West Virginia University has recently opened the WVU Research Park which just completed its first development phase and now has its first tenant. Marshall University has its new Institute for Interdisciplinary Research to accelerate the commercialization of research and the West Virginia High Technology Consortium Foundation is developing a technology park for high tech jobs. Soon there may be an announcement about new plans for the South Charleston Technology Park.

Like so many major global innovations, the very concept of the research park was invented here in America, at Stanford in 1951. Since then, the world has emulated our success. But today, they are outcompeting us, developing new technologies better, quicker, and more efficiently. And that is not okay.

It is time to redouble our efforts and make sure American research is commercialized right here on American soil.

The National Research Council has begun to show the way forward. Its recent report, “Understanding Research, Science and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices,” highlights the best practices common to many successful ventures. And I know we can apply those lessons here at home, to improve our research parks and harness their full economic potential. That commitment and investment will pay great dividends: successful research parks create the long-term, high-wage jobs, our nation is so hungry for.

These partnerships make innovation possible, sustainable, and valuable. They support the innovation we count on everyday to fight disease and advance public safety, to improve communications, ease transportation, foster new growth, and expand opportunity. Ultimately, it is about making an impact and making a difference in people’s lives.

I want to thank our witnesses for sharing their perspective on research parks today and their ideas for the future.