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Release: March 11, 1999

UI to host regional meeting on global competitiveness through innovation

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Leaders from Iowa's business, government and education sectors will gather March 19 at the University of Iowa to discuss how to make Iowa and the U.S. more competitive in the global market through innovation.

The UI is co-sponsoring a regional forum with the Washington D.C. -based Council on Competitiveness, which has compiled a report, "Going Global: the New Shape of American Innovation," that asserts that U.S. business will increasingly have to compete for wealth-creating investments in innovation.

"This message has profound implications for Iowa, and we believe this meeting will provide an opportunity to begin a continuing dialogue within the state on how to meet these challenges," said UI President Mary Sue Coleman.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and Coleman are co-chairing the meeting entitled "Iowa 2000: Competition Through Innovation," one of six scheduled sessions across the U.S.

Clay Jones, president of Rockwell Collins, will give an address on the implications of the report. Also attending will be co-chairs of Vilsack's Strategic Planning Council, a bipartisan citizen group that will examine Iowa's economic and social trends in the 21st century.

Executives from Motorola, Pfizer, and the National Science Foundation will respond to the implications of the report and lead discussions on enhancing Iowa's international competitiveness.

John Yochelson and Debra van Opstal, president and vice president of the Council, will give an overview of the report and its mandate for national public policy. The Council on Competitiveness is a non-partisan organization of 150 corporate chief executives, university presidents and labor leaders from across the U.S. who are working to set a national agenda to strengthen U.S. competitiveness.

The Council's report concludes that there is no immediate threat to U.S. leadership in innovation, but there is no room for complacency. Executives interviewed as part of the study were concerned that a unique set of conditions that propelled America to a position of world leadership may not be sufficient to keep it there, said van Opstal. "Going Global" also outlines conditions that are necessary to achieve the big innovation payoffs of economic growth and higher-wage jobs. The report presents new data on the innovation capacity of five key industry sectors: health services, information technology, advanced materials, the automotive industry, and express package transport.

"Iowa's leaders are very interested in innovation in the heath sciences and information technology, and we want to bring national and international insights to these areas. This report has generated a great deal of interest in Asia and Europe, and we want to make sure Iowa's governmental and industrial leaders are aware of our findings about investment in research and development that can have an impact on the state's economic prosperity," said Yochelson.

The research for "Going Global" included a study of R&D managers at 120 companies, universities and national laboratories, who collectively represent more than $70 billion in U.S. research and development investments.

For more information on the Council for Competitiveness, visit its website at http://www.compete.org/.