Office of Science and Technology Policy Blog
- Posted byon August 29, 2013 at 3:58 PM EDT
Teams of entrepreneurs often come together in programs known as “startup accelerators” to learn from mentors, hone their products, and ultimately make pitches to investors—whose early support can make all the difference between a company’s successful launch and a good idea gone unfunded. Last month, at a DC-based startup campus called 1776, 16 startup accelerators gathered—but with an unusual twist. Instead of pitching to profit-motivated investors, the accelerators pitched to a group of foundations to make the case for why these philanthropic organizations should expand their support for services aimed at helping new startups.
A joint project of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Global Accelerator Network (GAN), this Accelerator Demo Day was just the latest example of the Obama Administration’s commitment to an all-hands-on-deck approach to supporting startups as a key element of growing the American economy. The event provided a great opportunity for a range of startup accelerators focused on education, healthcare, retail, and other industries to forge relationships with an expanded set of potential partners. And it highlighted the great economic potential that startup accelerators in general can help to nurture in cities and states across the country.
- Posted byon August 28, 2013 at 11:41 AM EDT
In his remarks last week on college affordability at the New York State University of Buffalo, President Obama emphasized that “higher education is still the best ticket to upward mobility in America.”
Indeed, more and more, well-paying jobs—especially those in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields—require education or training after high school. STEM fields are some of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy and they are important to the health and longevity of our Nation’s people, economy, and environment.
But a recent report shows that today, less than half of high school graduates in the United States are prepared for college-level math courses, and under a third are ready for college-level science. Educating the next generation of scientists, engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs is critical to the continued leadership of United States. We need to get America’s STEM students college-ready.
From the beginning of his Administration, President Obama has called for all hands on deck to improve STEM education in America. Under the President’s Educate to Innovate Campaign the Administration has formed public private partnerships to inspire students in STEM fields and to provide the tools for students to achieve success.
The National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI) is one such partner working to answer the President’s call by improving student engagement and success in challenging high-school math and science courses. Today, NMSI announced that for the fifth year running, students enrolled in its Advanced Placement (AP) program earned significantly higher scores on AP exams compared to the national average. By providing teachers with specialized training, mentorship, and classroom resources, increased class time, and incentives for teachers, students, and administrators to work to achieve ambitious goals, NMSI’s AP program has on average increased by 144% the number of students achieving qualifying scores on AP math, science, and English exams in schools adopting the program.
- Posted byon August 22, 2013 at 9:27 AM EDT
In 2011, the President launched a national effort bringing together industry, universities, and the Federal Government to foster the US advanced manufacturing sector by enabling innovation, securing the talent pipeline, and improving the business climate for this important emerging industrial base. Central to innovation in the manufacturing domain is the industrial design sector, which focuses on making the user experience with new products easy and intuitive. So today we congratulate our colleagues at the National Endowment for the Arts for their release of a new and fascinating report, Valuing the Art of Industrial Design: A Profile of the Sector and Its Importance to Manufacturing, Technology, and Innovation—the first comprehensive look by the Federal Government at the American industrial-design enterprise.
Industrial designers develop the concepts for manufactured products such as cars, robots, home and electronic appliances, sporting goods, toys, and more. Working in a range of industries, these creative individuals combine the principles of art, business, and engineering to design and improve upon products and systems so they don’t just work but rather work with the people using them.
We are excited about the release of this report for several reasons. Besides the obvious fact that there would be no products to manufacture without designers to design them, Valuing the Art of Industrial Design provides a map of where the country's more than 40,000 industrial designers are doing their work, gives essential information about earnings and patents, and in its analysis confirms that industrial designers are not just adding decorative flair to others’ inventions but are themselves some of the most active inventors in the country. Between 1975 and 2010, 40 percent of people named on design patents were also named on utility patents. By contrast, only two percent of people named on a utility patent were also named on a design patent. Even better is the news that American industrial design has never been stronger, with more and more patents being earned every year.
- Posted byon August 21, 2013 at 10:27 AM EDT
Right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities. They’re earning degrees in the fields of the future, like engineering and computer science. But once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there’s a good chance they’ll have to leave our country. Think about that…We’re giving them all the skills they need, then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in China or India or Mexico or someplace else? That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors. That’s why we need comprehensive immigration reform.
-President Obama at Del Sol High School, Las Vegas, NV, January 29, 2013
Diversity is one of America’s greatest assets. Attracting the broadest possible set of perspectives, skills, and ideas to our shores is critical to creating jobs, growing the economy, and keeping America on the cutting-edge of innovation. That’s why commonsense immigration reform is so important to the science, technology, and innovation community – and it’s why we need to ensure that “geeks” from around the world continue to make America their mothership.
Join us this Friday, August 23, at 12:00 pm EDT for a “We the (Immigrant) Geeks” Google+ Hangout on “Making the U.S. a Geek Magnet” – where you can meet extraordinary immigrant pioneers with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), who have made amazing discoveries, developed new inventions, founded high-growth companies, and conducted remarkable research. The individuals listed below will share their personal stories and perspectives on why paving the way for future foreign-born innovators is essential to keeping America globally competitive and keeping the Nation’s science and technology enterprise on the cutting-edge. And you can share your stories via Twitter using the hashtag #WeTheGeeks.
- Posted byon August 16, 2013 at 2:22 PM EDT
In May, the President signed an Executive Order to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs and others as fuel for innovation, economic growth, and government efficiency. Under the terms of the Executive Order and a new Open Data Policy all newly generated government data will be required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, greatly enhancing their accessibility and usefulness, while ensuring privacy and security.
Today, we are building on this effort by releasing additional resources to help Federal agencies make data open and available in machine-readable form. Specifically, we are releasing additional guidance to agencies about how to inventory and publish their data assets, new FAQs about how open data requirements apply to Federal acquisition and grant-making processes, and a framework for creating measurable goals that agencies can use to track progress. All of this is openly available on the Project Open Data website, where additional case studies and free software tools for the agencies are also available.
Opening up a wide range of government data means more entrepreneurs and companies using those data to create tools that help Americans find the right health care provider, identify a college that provides good value, find a safe place to live, and much more. It also empowers decision makers within government, giving them access to more information to enable smarter, data-driven decisions. Responsibly making government data open and widely reusable is good for the American people, and good for the American economy.
And to make it easier for the public and entrepreneurs to find, understand, and use open government data, we’re working to improve the central website about US government data – check out Next.Data.gov – a design prototype of the next generation of Data.gov. The team at Data.gov is shipping code every two weeks, and is eager to hear your thoughts about how to make it even better. You can provide feedback on Quora, Github, or Twitter.
Nick Sinai, U.S. Deputy CTO, Office of Science and Technology Policy
Dominic Sale, Supervisory Policy Analyst, Office of Management and Budget
- Posted byon August 14, 2013 at 11:56 AM EDT
Earlier this summer, the National Science Foundation announced the winners of its Innovation in Graduate Education Challenge, the inaugural student challenge that invited graduate students to submit ideas on how to improve graduate education.
Graduate education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is at a crossroads. Several recent reports have described a need to change graduate education to better prepare students for modern day challenges and for a range of career options in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Through the Innovation in Graduate Education challenge, the NSF asked the graduate students to submit innovative ideas for graduate education that would prepare them for tomorrow’s opportunities and challenges. Ideas focused on students, faculty, departments, institutions, professional societies, and/or Federal agencies. The students were asked to identify an issue in graduate education and to propose a solution.
NSF received over 500 entries from more than 700 STEM graduate students from across the country. The students represented 155 universities or institutions from 47 states as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.
The winning entries addressed topics such as transparency in graduate education, science-communication skills training, retention of women in science fields, career awareness and preparation, community engagement, and mentorship. The students’ entries proposed innovative approaches to address these issues, often including grass roots efforts by graduate students themselves, to make changes in the STEM graduate experience.
The first prize was awarded to PhD candidate Kevin Disotell, of Ohio State University, whose entry—Opening the Doors of STEM Graduate Education: A Collaborative, Web-Based Approach to Unlocking Student Pathways—proposed a comprehensive online portal to provide advisor matching, degree management tools, career development resources, and a publicly accessible forum for sharing student research.
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