Guston added that capitalizing on the strengths of different regions around the country is part of a larger picture of investing more in America’s ability to compete globally, long term. 

“While the U.S. remains an innovative and successful hub for research, there was some realization that we can no longer be complacent, so these discussions started about investing more in technology development. We can not just rely on what we've always done, even though in the past that has served us well,” he said.

Some of the other core questions addressed during the event focused on how key elements of the U.S. innovation system — including science-based industries, universities, government labs, the intellectual property system and entrepreneurial communities — can incorporate otherwise ignored communities and minority perspectives. 

Sokolov said that America can’t expect to excel globally without the consideration of diverse voices across all sectors.

“We see this as an impetus to cultural change in the academic research community and a long-term challenge. No one thinks this is gonna happen overnight,” she said. “I would like to see the NSF reach beyond a normal comfort zone because at this point, the academic social science research community is part of their comfort zone.”

Krista Hinz