Since its establishment 1984, GUIRR has acted on its mission to “convene the senior-most representatives from government, universities and industry to define and explore critical issues related to the national and global science and technology agenda.” Leaders from the three constituent sectors – government, academia, and industry – work together mindfully on shared important problems, exploring ways to enhance collaboration and public-private partnership, improve the productivity of the nation’s science and technology enterprise, and maintain our competitive edge.
GUIRR holds three formal meetings each year on issues of pressing interest and importance to the nation. Members have taken a hard look at the U.S. patent system, for example – to ascertain to what extent it encourages and/or inhibits innovation. We have considered what big data means for research, and how the merging of previously distinct disciplines (“convergence”) is creating news disciplines as well as a new model of scientific research. Furthermore, we have examined how innovation can be financed in new and novel ways, and, quite recently, how the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ is impacting all economies and industries and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human. The topics are varied, cross-cutting, and have serious policy implications.
Much of the work of GUIRR between meetings is done by its members in smaller working groups that can quickly catalyze high level government-university-industry cooperation on specific issues identified by the Roundtable. One highly energized working group is currently pursuing activities to help improve the effectiveness of international research collaborations.
In addition to creating an environment for discussion and analysis, GUIRR serves as secretariat to the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), a semi-autonomous sub entity that explores issues related to the relationship between government science agencies and institutional recipients of federal funds, universities mostly. The FDP’s mission is to streamline federal processes and reduce administrative burdens associated with federal research grants and contracts.
Another project managed until recently under the GUIRR mantle is the University Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP). The UIDP crafts collaborative experiments on new approaches to sponsored research and licensing arrangements, with the strategic goal of catalyzing healthy, long-term university-industry relationships. In July 2015, UIDP transitioned out of the Academies after its prosperous 8-year incubation period with GUIRR and now operates as an independent nonprofit organization. We are tremendously proud of this successful start-up and spin-out.
GUIRR-initiated collaborations of individuals from the government, university and industry sectors have a continuing record of success in improving the effectiveness of the U.S. in science and technology and its application to national goals. Looking to the future, we believe this approach – reflecting the initiative of its members – will remain timely in an increasingly complex and interdependent world.