Science board, state join to boost isles' high tech
An advisory board to the president and Congress has entered into an agreement to help develop programs and initiatives to advance science, engineering and high-technology efforts in Hawaii, Gov. Linda Lingle announced yesterday.
Members of the National Science Board, the 24-member governing body of the National Science Foundation, signed a joint "statement of understanding" with Lingle yesterday.
The governor also announced the formation of a 15-member Hawaii Innovation Council, which would coordinate innovation-related activities statewide and advise on policy.
Lingle has promoted the development of STEM skills -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- within all sectors of Hawaii's economy to promote education and move the state away from an economy based on land development.
"For them (the board) to be willing to do this with our state is important, because it says, 'We're going to be partners in the future in our efforts,'" Lingle said. "We're all in agreement that if we don't make this transition, we simply can't maintain the standard of living that we've had and we certainly can't get better."
Lingle signed the statement of understanding with Steven Beering, chairman of the National Science Board. Seven members of the board representing the body's leadership also attended the signing ceremony in the governor's office.
Board members plan to visit facilities on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island to get a sense of Hawaii's high-technology profile.
"With this knowledge of experiences and model initiatives," Beering said, "the board hopes to be better positioned to address national policy issues related to S and E (science and engineering) research and education, as well as improving our guidance and policies for the National Science Foundation as we continue to enhance critical support for such efforts in Hawaii and throughout the nation."
Under the agreement, the board will explore opportunities for partnerships to advance Lingle's innovation plan and to promote STEM skills in schools and universities, Lingle's office said.
The state receives about $40 million annually in National Science Foundation research and grant money, said Linda Smith, Lingle's senior policy adviser. While in Hawaii, board members also plan to review some of those NSF-funded projects, Smith said.
Meanwhile, Lingle announced the creation of the Hawaii Innovation Council to serve as her principal advisory group on innovation-related matters. The council's job is to coordinate efforts with state, federal, county and private-sector groups, along with schools, colleges and universities.
The council's three co-chairmen are Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer of business management Web site salesforce.com; Ron Higgins, president and chief executive officer of private investment management firm RSHF, LLC; and Jay Shidler, founder and managing partner of the Shidler Group real estate firm.
Two spots on the council are reserved for the head of the state Board of Education and the head of the University of Hawaii. The remaining 10 spots are open. Those interested in applying for the council can contact the governor's office.