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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and MIT President Reif discuss the importance of harnessing the power of data, pointing out that research, education, and policy regarding data are crucial to the American economy.

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U.S. Secretary of Commerce visits the Institute

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker toured MIT’s campus and delivered a speech on Sept. 18 at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Her address was followed by a Q&A session with President L. Rafael Reif, in which they discussed the challenges in academic research when long-term projects are only backed by short-term investments.

During the Q&A, Reif indicated that although private investments are generally a sufficient supplement to public funding in research done at academic institutions, these investments are more readily acquired when the project in question has a five-year timeline, at most. This presents a problem for innovation that requires more time to be developed.

According to the MIT News Office, Pritzker’s visit is part of the Obama administration’s efforts to support U.S. growth in advanced manufacturing. Her visit also included “a tour of three research groups in MIT’s Research Laboratory for Electronics (RLE) [and] a roundtable discussion about innovation ecosystems with MIT faculty and other stakeholders.”

—Patricia Z. Dominguez