The Commonwealth Blog

Do We Need a Supercommittee for Economic Competitiveness? MIT's President Weighs In

Nov 21, 2011 @ 11:01 AM

Earlier this month, MIT President Susan Hockfield appeared at The Commonwealth Club of California Silicon Valley to talk about American competitiveness and innovation. Those are popular topics these days, as the United States continues to work through a difficult economic recovery and other nations – China, Germany, India, Poland, Turkey – are enjoying stronger growth and employment. Add to this situation the ongoing policy turmoil in Washington, D.C., and you have some leaders sounding the alarm. Add Hockfield to that group of leaders.

As Ken Kaplan notes in his report on Hockfield's appearance,  "": "American ingenuity and innovation, the twin engine of the country's economy since World War II, is in danger of losing steam and job growth potential if federal legislators allow 'automatic' spending cuts to kick in next year rather than earmarking federal funds to advance education, research and manufacturing, according Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Susan Hockfield. Hockfield sounded the economic alarm bell Wednesday at the Commonwealth Club of California in Silicon Valley. 'The big question is: Where will our much needed jobs come from?' she asked. 'Will we let other nations lead or will we seize the lead?'"

Hockfield, a neuroscientist, argued that America needed to invest in the parts of its economy that spawn innovation and growth, according to Alan Weissberger's report on, "": "During her lecture, Ms. Hockfield discussed a range of 'innovation economy' priorities, including federal government funding of basic research, immigration policy for foreign students, creating an entrepreneurial culture at universities and seizing the opportunities of advanced manufacturing. She believes that the intersection of the life sciences and engineering will be pivotal to innovation and economic growth in the 21st Century."

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