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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Council on Competitiveness: US-Brazil Innovation Learning Laboratory

Leavey Center
Georgetown University
August 21, 2008

Good morning and welcome.  As a member of the Council on Competitiveness Executive Committee, I am extremely pleased that Georgetown University is hosting the first US-based “US-Brazil Innovation Learning Laboratory.”

I understand that many of you here today have just arrived from Atlanta, having participated in Secretary of Commerce Gutierrez’s Americas Competitiveness Forum.  I am sure you will have some great insights to share—and I truly thank you for making the trip to DC to participate in our exercise today. 

We are especially honored to have with us Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the Embassy of Brazil, Rubens Gama… as well as the United States Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Acting Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Sandy Baruah.

Of course to everyone else, whether you travelled across time zones or just across the beltway, we truly appreciate your joining us today... and I look forward to all that you will bring to our discussions.

Today’s Innovation Learning Laboratory… organized by the Council on Competitiveness, which is led by Deborah Wince-Smith… the Movimento Brasil Competitivo, led by Claudio Gastal… and ABDI, the Brazilian Agency for Industrial Development, led by Reginaldo Arcuri…will kick-off a year-long series of Innovation Learning Laboratories and progressive dialogues in both the US and Brazil.  These are aimed at implementing and building on the “Call to Action” that emerged from last summer’s US-Brazil Innovation Summit.  That summit was the first of its kind and was applauded by both President Lula of and President Bush of the .

These US-Brazil Innovation Learning Laboratories will, in essence, create a series of ongoing conversations in both nations, between private and public sector stakeholders, to:

  • Map the innovation “ecosystems” of the and ;
  • Identify key barriers to – and opportunities for – change and collaboration; and, ultimately,
  • Design a policy strategy that will enhance the competitiveness potential of both economies—as well as the Western Hemisphere—and create the framework and recommendations for the 2009 US-Brazil Innovation Summit.

Today’s Learning Laboratory comes on the heels of a kick-off event three weeks ago in Brasília, in which my colleague, Georgetown’s Senior Vice President Spiros Dimolitsas participated, as did many of you.  It will focus primarily on the legal, regulatory and financial environments necessary to spur innovation, entrepreneurship and prosperity…And while these topics will be its main focus, we will also touch upon issues related to talent and investments.

Other key areas will be addressed throughout the year in our series of Labs in the and .  And today’s work will build toward these future conversations.  I know I can speak for Deborah, Claudio, and Reginaldo, in saying that we want all of you to remain engaged in this work, to help us build a stronger hemispheric community—one that is particularly based on innovation, productivity growth and prosperity for all.

And before I leave you, I do want to again emphasize the importance of this last piece—prosperity that leaves no one out, behind, or left on the sidelines.  I believe it is important to keep this goal in the back of our minds as we proceed today…because it is this inclusive prosperity that will reach and lift all members of our societies, and that will make our other endeavors—to innovate, progress, and compete—worthwhile.  

I wish you all a very productive and constructive day.  And, again, it is a privilege to have you join us here at Georgetown.  Thank you. 

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