The importance of the technologically able social innovators and entrepreneurs: A US National Laboratory Perspective

Victor Chavez, Regan Stinnett, Robert Tierney, Steven Thomas Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
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A country's National Innovation Policies (NIP) often center on military, energy or other national security missions. Yet many countries' NIPs have resulted in tremendous societal benefit through both planned and unplanned action not associated with these goals. Socially important technology product platforms often are developed at facilities that are part of National Innovation Systems. Yet the policies that govern Social Entrepreneurial Action (SEA) at these facilities are unclear. If there is not a place for SEA in these facilities for technology transfer practice then there is cause for concern. Here we add to the growing literature on SEA by utilizing the case study method to investigate how SEA has been utilized by the US National Innovation Systems (NIS) for the benefit of society. We do this by investigating two cases which emphasize internal (corporate) and external SEA in a research facility within the US NIS. We demonstrate how a US national laboratory's external engagement of SEA led to one of the most important innovations of the last half of the 20th century – the Laminar Flow Clean Room. We also show how internal SEA led to the emergence of the National Institute for Nanotechnology Engineering (NINE). The “NINE program” created a pathway enabling the emergence of nascent policy makers, technologists and entrepreneurial professionals. We then provide a model for SEA at US national laboratories through technology able social innovators and identify a new type of internal and external social entrepreneur – the Technologically Able Social Entrepreneur (TASE).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-215
JournalTechnological forecasting and social change
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


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