TI CEO Rich Templeton gives the keynote address at a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) event June 4 hosted by the University of Texas System at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Listen to Rich Templeton's remarks
TI Chairman, President and CEO Rich Templeton said in a June 4 keynote address that the work and research done every day on university campuses across the U.S. is essential to America's future.
"The leading companies were founded in the U.S. because many of the best minds in the world were attracted to our research universities and wanted to come here to work with the best and work on the best."
Rich was the keynote speaker at a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) event hosted by the University of Texas System at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. The event is part of a countrywide rollout of a recent NAS study titled, "Research Universities and the Future of America."
That congressionally commissioned study makes a series of recommendations for how the U.S. can continue to be the undisputed world leader in technology and innovation.
Rich touched on a few of the report's recommendations and laid out his vision of the needs of U.S. universities and the role federal and state governments and the private sector play in maintaining a strong research system.
Specifically Rich focused on:
- Strengthening government support for science funding at the federal and state levels.
- Strengthening university partnerships with business.
- Building talent especially in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, through improved kindergarten through 12th-grade (K-12) education, stable funding for graduate research, and high-skilled immigration reform.
Rich urged the U.S. government to prioritize federal funding for research and graduate education by providing stable funding and polices.
"If you have funding coming and going researchers can't plan a life. We need to have research funded on a consistent basis," he said.
He acknowledged the nation's budget challenges but noted that research funding has high return on investment that pays out for many years, sometime decades. Rich hopes that the America COMPETES Act, which is up for reauthorization in this Congress, will receive broad, bipartisan support and that the legislation recognizes research as "an essential national priority."
Rich noted the important role that states also play in research and referenced the Texas Legislature's continued support for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund and the TRIPS program.
He also commented on the report's recommendations on high-skilled immigration. Talented students from the rest of the world should find it easy to come and learn at U.S. universities, he said, and it should be easier for them to stay once they have earned their degrees.
"Once we get folks here, we have to give them an opportunity to set up, begin their lives, begin their companies and do their work right here in the U.S. If we do not, they will play on the other team," he said.
"To think we are going to attract the best and the brightest from around the world, train them at our research universities, and then say, 'Please go home and compete against me,' makes no sense. That's what our policies have been doing for years now."
Rich said he is encouraged with the bipartisan efforts in both houses of Congress to move immigration reform forward. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved the Senate bill, which is scheduled for floor action this month. The House is proceeding in a piecemeal fashion.
"We've got to move that from being a potential resolution to high-skilled immigration to where we really can claim that that has been solved," he said.
TI has always been a strong partner in education at all grade levels in the U.S. Building talent is key to the future of America. The building begins well before college.
"We are becoming technologically more demanding as a society, and even if we have students who are not going to be engineers or scientists, math and technology is going to be a bigger part of their lives, and so we have to invest [in STEM education]," he said.
In the past five years alone, TI and the TI Foundation have invested more than $150 million to support education, including support for higher education, K-12 initiatives for students and teachers, and research.
In concluding, Rich noted that U.S. universities are still the best in the world, "but other countries, they've learned. They've watched our playbook. They've studied well.
"We've got to invest in great ideas. We've got to invest in great and talented people. We've got big policy that is taking place up in Washington right now, one of them is on immigration reform, one of them is on America COMPETES. Don't be quiet. This is an important time to try and move those through."