Thanks to our long tradition of innovation and our vibrant innovation ecosystem, Massachusetts has benefited disproportionately from this country’s innovation infrastructure. Our universities, companies, entrepreneurs, and financiers, on their own, without a grand plan, and through their own drive, have made Massachusetts one of the world’s foremost environments for innovation. Their presence here attracts bright people and billions of dollars of investment every year. Their presence fuels an ongoing reinvention of our economy.
The leadership behind the post-war infrastructure devoted to research and innovation in the United States can be traced to one of our own, Vannevar Bush. Through him, Massachusetts played a seminal role in the formative stages of America’s unparalleled innovation ecosystem. He was a native of Everett. He was MIT’s Vice President and Dean of Engineering from 1932 to 1938. He was director of the federal Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II. His report “Science, The Endless Frontier” published in 1945 envisioned what would be later be born as the National Science Foundation.
Today in Massachusetts, to sustain a prosperous and equitable society founded on individual dignity and initiative, innovation is as important as education, health, security, and sustainability. The performance of our economy and the well-being of many of our communities depend on innovation.
But we can no longer take our innovation economy for granted. What we have been privileged to have in our midst for decades is what other states –and other countries- are seeking to imitate. Everybody wants a piece of the knowledge economy. In other words, everybody wants a piece of what we have, and we have a big chunk of it. We cannot sit still. And that is why we in state government are mobilizing together with industry and academic leaders across the state. We are creating frameworks for collaboration and supporting ongoing dialogues that will ensure that innovation remains big and becomes a bigger part of our economy.
So in my opinion, those who do not appreciate the need for and the value of state-sponsored initiatives to enhance our innovation economy are shortsighted. They undersell the future of our children and our grandchildren. Those who think that government has no business in promoting innovation are either unaware or have chosen not to see the history of American industry and innovation.