Innovation Forum

Every day, at the State Department, we tackle issues at the intersection of science and technology and foreign policy—from modernizing arms control agreements to negotiating norms of behavior in cyberspace or even outerspace. Every day, we work towards big goals—from strengthening global food, health, and energy security to expanding access to education for refugees—that require the leadership and creativity of the innovation community. And every day, we consider how transformations in science and technology will impact our foreign policy in the future. What does the revolution in robotics mean for warfighting, or advances in artificial intelligence for labor markets, or the advent of digital currencies for the dollar?

Here at the State Department, we have intensified our focus on building bridges with the innovation community to help answer precisely these kinds of questions. Chaired by Deputy Secretary Blinken, the Innovation Forum convenes regular conversations between senior policymakers and global innovators to strengthen this connectivity—allowing innovators to engage with foreign policy at the highest levels and foreign policy priorities to spark and accelerate new ideas. Through events, workshops, and roundtable discussions, the Innovation Forum enables the State Department to see more clearly around the innovation corner, while providing a window into what we are trying to achieve and inspiring others to join us.

The Innovation Forum builds on tremendous work across the State Department to harness the ingenuity and expertise of the world’s brightest minds in solving our greatest challenges. Through the TechWomen initiative and the GIST Network (Global Innovation through Science and Technology), we are empowering a new generation of leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math from developing and emerging economies across the world. We have launched an American Innovation Roadshow to engage policymakers, business leaders, and young entrepreneurs across the world on fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. We have brought diverse participants together to help protect and strengthen an open internet and advanced our efforts through Global Connect to bring 1.5 billion people online by 2020. We also host many fellows from science, engineering, business, and academic communities.

Remarks and Commentary:


America Must Engage With the World: Column

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “Now, the advocates of open societies have a lot of work to do to make their case real and relevant to the lives of our fellow citizens and responsive to their legitimate concerns. That requires a combination of confidence and humility: defending the value of a globalized world while acknowledging the need to adapt our national and international policies so that progress is more broadly shared and creative disruption does not unravel our social and economic fabric.” Full Text»

Innovation and Policy: Remarks at RAND Politics Aside Conference

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “From the moment that Ben Franklin first chased a thunderstorm with a kite, a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship has been the birthright of every American and the wellspring of our national strength and renewal. Because of this, we tend to think about innovation as being above and beyond politics, but the truth is innovation is inherently political. There are winners and there are losers.” Full Text»

Investing in Innovation Ecosystem: Remarks to Vietnam National University

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “The principles that make an innovation ecosystem possible, the ingredients that make it flourish, are something that all nations and all citizens share a stake in cultivating and upholding. An education grounded in critical thinking and inspired by the free exchange of ideas. A rules-based economic and trading architecture that is built on transparency and competition. A respect for the rights, freedom, and dignity of all people. And a society invested in maintaining the peace and stability throughout the world.” Full Text»

The Hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction: An Innovation Forum Workshop

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “But our work is still far, far, far from complete, and what we really need is your help to create a new paradigm where individuals become active participants in their own security and safety, where the greatest threat to our security—the actions of individuals—can become our greatest strength. We need your help to take advantage of the fact that governments no longer have a virtual monopoly on space assets, like satellites, or innovations in communications, like the internet, as they did decades ago.” Full Text»

Date: 03/15/2016 Description: Deputy Secretary Blinken joining in for a song in a classroom for refugee children in Adana, Turkey. - State Dept Image

Convening a Global Conversation: A Medium Post

Deputy Secretary Blinken: "We don’t want to just have Innovation Forum discussions with those we can convene in a room. We want to open up these conversations to everyone who is grappling with these issues in unique contexts and with diverse perspectives." Full Text»

Preparing for the Challenges of Tomorrow

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “[Ben Franklin] looked at challenges in new ways—not as difficulties over which to despair, but as problems to solve. He understood that diplomacy’s abiding strength was not its isolation but rather its immersion in the great currents of global change. Through the centuries, our diplomats have served as essential navigators in these tides—sensing and seizing opportunities across the globe to shape a world that is a little bit wealthier, a little bit healthier, a little bit wiser.” Full Text»

Refugee Education Workshop

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “This is the community that understands that talent is everywhere—but opportunity is not. And this is the community that not only imagines solutions for the challenges we face—but then sits right down and builds them. We need that depth of passion and ingenuity today.” Full Text»

Social Good Summit

Deputy Secretary Blinken: “Today, you don’t have to work at the State Department or in the U.S. Government to change the world. You can do it from your own backyard, from your own living room. We are fortunate to live in a world where—try as people might, try as governments might—you just can’t keep a good idea down.” Full Text»