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Tennesseans push Industry-Scitech partnering in D.C.
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Two Tennesseans will be among those traveling to Washington, D.C., this week to help accelerate the nation's science, technology and education initiatives.

U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon (D-6) (at right) and Vanderbilt University School of Engineering Dean Kenneth Galloway are among experts convening Dec. 11 at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, on Pennsylvania Avenue. The conference is titled, "Partnering for American Competitiveness."

Gordon is chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, a role that will probably gain influence during the Obama Administration, particularly given Democrat control of both houses of Congress.

Thursday's event is the sequel to a national Science and Technology Summit held last summer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as required by legislation Gordon helped pass 18 months ago.

The America COMPETES Act called for a broad range of initiatives, but received only token support from the Bush Administration, which believed it contained wasteful provisions.

Myriad stakeholders nationwide have awaited funding for America COMPETES and other programs. Those ranks include Mind2Marketplace, the nonprofit regional tech-commercialization organization that is headquartered at Middle Tennessee State University, in Murfreesboro, in the heart of Gordon's congressional district.

Now, Gordon and such allies as U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-AZ) are preparing for a fresh push to ensure funding for America COMPETES mandates is included in the next federal budget.

Their hopes could only have been heightened by President-Elect Barack Obama's comment yesterday regarding the importance of "elevating science, once again," after Inauguration Day, Jan. 20. Obama's comments came during NBC's "Meet the Press" interview.

Nonetheless, the summit's agenda reflects the gnarly problems that face those who would increase collaboration among science-technology stakeholders.

As a discussant, for example, Galloway's (at left) task is to examine how "innovation hubs" might accelerate U.S. innovation and competitiveness. Joining him will be the CEO of SRC Semiconductor Research Corp., an executive from the National Governors Association and a Dow Chemical executive representing a National Academy of Engineering working group.

Within the state, similar questions are being run to ground by Tennessee Technology Development Corporation (TTDC) and stakeholders who range from corporate CEOs, to venture capitalists and university-based researchers.

The U.S. competitiveness agenda most recently gained momentum with the 2007 publication of Rising Above the Gathering Storm, a report that has caused considerable alarm about the erosion of U.S. advantages in the face of the global knowledge economy. The report was authored by members of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.

Lead sponsors for this week's gathering include the Wilson Center, the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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Tags: America COMPETES, Bart Gordon, innovation, Jeff Bingaman, Kenneth Galloway, Mind2Marketplace, sponsored research, tech-driven economic development, Tennessee Technology Development Corporation, TTDC, Vanderbilt University School of Engineering

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