Robert D. Hormats
Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs
Washington, DC
April 26, 2012

Hello, and thank you for allowing me to address you in absentia. While I would have loved to have been with you in person, it does seem appropriate that my address provides the perfect example of the impact of successful large-scale innovation: a message from thousands of miles away, delivered over a global network.

Congratulations to the Institute for Large Scale Innovation (ILSI) for putting together such a successful event and bringing so many brilliant minds together from government and the private sector.

Thank you also to my good friend John Kao. John never ceases to impress with his ability to engage global audiences to find innovation solutions to large scale problems around the world. John is a world class thinker and writer, whose book – Innovation Nation – has had a powerful effect on the thinking of myself and many others.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the United States, and the State Department in particular, is keenly interested in innovation.

Innovation is global. No country can do it all alone. The United States is keenly interested in learning about global best practices.

Indeed, Secretary Clinton has been a leader in efforts to find new, large-scale solutions to complex global solutions.

To give you a recent example, Secretary Clinton spoke in Brasilia last week at the annual meeting of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

Since the OGP was launched last year, fifty-five countries have joined, meaning a quarter of the world’s people now live in OPG countries. Each of these countries has outlined concrete, credible steps that it will take to open the work of government so citizens are empowered, problems are solved, democracy is strengthened.

Technological innovation has played a central role in these efforts. Technology makes it both possible and useful to do things that were once impractical or prohibitively expensive. This includes releasing enormous quantities of public data, or making national budgets easily available online.

And of course, new connection technologies empower citizens to connect with one another to solve problems and educate as well as influence their leaders.

For example, Chile, Estonia, Jordan, and Peru are all creating websites to make public data available to citizens on everything from crime statistics to political party financing to local budgets and procurement.

Now other countries have also pledged to make the location and status of natural resources transparent, map the location of water access points, and create innovation funds for development of technologies that support openness.

Because of the Department’s interest in innovation, we have had had a history of collaboration with the Institute for Large Scale Innovation. We salute its i20 community of innovation leaders for now representing over 40 countries worldwide.

The State Department hosted the last ILSI summit in Washington DC in January 2011. We focused on what it really means to adopt a global perspective on innovation.

This year, I am pleased that your summit is focusing on the best and most promising practices.

This meeting demonstrates the power of the network: to be able to operate within a community of like-minded practitioners searching for models of large scale innovation that will be relevant in a turbulent, but extremely promising world.

The US State Department is pleased to continue this relationship with the ILSI.

I salute your efforts to catalyze this conversation on innovation between Abu Dhabi and the global community.

Indeed, the UAE is the perfect venue for such a conversation. Its business and economic policies, unique in the Middle East, have attracted over 750 American firms to the country.

To advance our shared commercial and economic goals, we have established the U.S. – UAE Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD). I had the pleasure of signing an MOU with Minister Gargash to formalize and officially launch the EPD when I traveled to the UAE in January. The dialogue will serve as a coordinating and convening mechanism for economic and commercial agencies and ministries from the United States and UAE.

We are especially pleased to follow the progress of the Innovation Cloud platform for global innovation collaboration.

Through such efforts, innovation can serve as an engine for social and economic progress.

The US State Department is pleased to further its role in being a steward for global innovation and we are pleased to be in a collaborative relationship with the Institute for Large Scale Innovation.

Thank you again for allowing me to address you today. Good luck with your discussions this week, and with continued success for the creation of these new and instrumental innovation platforms.