Director, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship
The National Academies
Dr. Charles Wessner is a distinguished scholar and a powerful advocate of effective innovation policies. Dr. Charles Wessner is a National Academy Scholar and Director of the Program on Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. He is recognized nationally and internationally for his expertise on innovation policy, including public-private partnerships, entrepreneurship, early-stage financing for new firms, and the special needs and benefits of high-technology industry. He testifies to the U.S. Congress and major national commissions, advises agencies of the U.S. government and international organizations, and lectures at leading universities in the U.S. and abroad. Reflecting the strong global interest in innovation, he is frequently asked to address issues of shared policy interest with foreign governments, universities, and research institutes, often briefing government ministers and senior officials. He has a strong commitment to international cooperation, reflected in the recent honor bestowed on him with his nomination as an Officer of the Order of Merit by President of the Republic of France.
Dr. Wessner's work addresses the linkages between science-based economic growth, entrepreneurship, new technology development, university-industry clusters, regional development, small-firm finance, and public-private partnerships. His program at the National Academies also addresses policy issues associated with international technology cooperation, investment, and trade in high-technology industries.
In addition to launching the National Academies Innovation Policy Forum, Dr. Wessner currently directs a series of studies centered on government measures to encourage entrepreneurship and support the development of new technologies and the cooperation between industry, universities, laboratories, and government to capitalize on a nation’s investment in research. Foremost among these is a congressionally mandated study of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, reviewing the operation and achievements of this $2.5 billion award program for small companies and start-ups. He has also just completed a major study on best practice in global innovation programs. The report, Rising to the Challenge: U.S. Innovation Policy for the Global Economy, describes the dramatically changed global competitive environment, outlines a series of policy initiatives to enhance U.S. competitiveness, and identifies opportunities for greater international cooperation. Dr. Wessner is currently directing complementary analyses on Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State and Regional Innovation Initiatives and 21st Century Manufacturing: The Role of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The overarching goal of his work is to develop a better understanding of how we can bring new technologies forward to address global challenges in health, climate, energy, water, infrastructure, and security.