Innovation in science and technology has been the dominant source of productivity gains and new enterprises in the U.S. economy over the last 50 years, accounting for as much as half of U.S. economic growth. Innovation is the transformation of scientific and technological advances into new products, processes, systems and services. Innovation has created astonishing, tangible benefits to society, including improved healthcare, transportation, computer and communications capacities.
Much of the capacity for innovation in the U.S. has resulted from federal funding of research. For 50 years, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has enabled innovation through its support of discovery and the production of a scientifically and technologically knowledgeable workforce second to none.
In its Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) program, the NSF seeks to stimulate and capitalize on innovation by catalyzing partnerships among colleges and universities, state and local governments, the private sector and other relevant organizations. Key factors in the innovation enterprise include:
- the creation of and access to new knowledge
- a scientifically and technologically literate workforce prepared to capitalize on new knowledge
- an infrastructure that enables innovation.
For the purpose of this program, innovation explicitly extends both to developing the people and tools and to creating the necessary organizational conditions to foster the transformation of knowledge into the products, processes, systems and services that fuel economic development, create wealth and generate improvements in the national standard of living. The academic institutions that are NSF’s traditional clientele play an essential role in generating new knowledge and creating a scientifically and technologically literate workforce.
Peoria NEXT is a prime example of bringing together the public and private sectors for the purpose of innovation and commercialization. Peoria NEXT has already received one PFI grant, and it will continue to grow that relationship with the NSF. IBI