Secretary Bryson Visits
Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Panel discussion with business leaders
John Bryson and Rick McCullough
Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson visited Pittsburgh to tour Aquion Energy, a Carnegie Mellon University spin-off and battery technology company.
While here, he led a discussion with business leaders at CMU, along with CMU Vice President of Research Rick McCullough and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. The discussion included American business growth, innovation, and public-private partnerships.
In his remarks, Bryson noted the Obama Administration's plans to foster a new era of American energy and the Department of Commerce's focus on supporting American manufacturers.
In June 2011, President Obama announced a major manufacturing initiative — the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) — which brings together major U.S. manufacturers and top U.S. universities, including Carnegie Mellon.
"We need our U.S. businesses not only to build it here but to take it and sell it everywhere. That's a constant refrain for us," said Secretary Bryson.
Bryson complimented CMU for its entrepreneurial spirit in bringing innovative ideas to market.
Since 2004, CMU has doubled the number of start-up companies created by its faculty and students and now stands as one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial institutions in the United States.
CMU has introduced "Greenlighting Startups," an initiative aimed at accelerating the university's already impressive record of turning campus innovations into sustainable new businesses.
Aquion Energy, founded by CMU Materials Science and Engineering Professor Jay Whitacre, received the 2011 World Technology Award in Energy for its work in creating a safe, reliable and affordable way to store energy.
Bryson reinforced one of President Obama's State of the Union messages with the following: "When American businesses compete on a level playing field, American businesses almost always win. We bring the creativity, the education, the talent, and we win."
He also noted that companies who initially set up their businesses abroad are beginning to come back to the U.S. They have realized that the U.S. supply chain and talent allow Americans to work in ways where wage levels, productivity levels and the quality of products are higher.
Bryson stated, "My commitment to you today is that we will provide tireless and effective support to businesses across the country to both compete and win."
Mayor Ravenstahl commented on the large transformation that the Pittsburgh region has gone through in the last 20 to 30 years.
"What we still do here is we still make things. We are proud of our roots in manufacturing," said Ravenstahl.
CMU Vice President of Research Rick McCullough pointed out that every day CMU students and faculty are creating new innovations that lead to new jobs.
"This is a really important moment in the U.S. as we try to rebuild our economy. With the vibrancy of our faculty and students, we can play a major role."
McCullough is also founder of Plextronics, a CMU spin-off company that specializes in printed solar, lighting and other electronics.
Secretary Bryson was recently named by the President to co-chair the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration partnered with the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation to lead an innovation competition called the i6 Challenge.
CMU and Innovation Works, Inc., were announced as one of the winning teams with the best ideas for technology commercialization and entrepreneurship.
[Group photo above, l–r]: Mayor Luke Ravenstahl; Rich Lunak (E'87), President & CEO, Innovation Works; Scott Pearson, CEO, Aquion Energy; Secretary Bryson; Lalit Chordia (E'85), President & Founder, Thar Technologies, Inc.