Ambassador Hans Klemm at the Forbes 100 Gala

Ambassador Hans Klemm delivers remarks at the Forbes 100 Gala. Bucharest, May 22, 2017 (Mihaela Armaselu / U.S. Embassy)
Ambassador Hans Klemm delivers remarks at the Forbes 100 Gala. Bucharest, May 22, 2017 (Mihaela Armaselu / U.S. Embassy)
Ambassador Hans Klemm delivers remarks at the Forbes 100 Gala. Bucharest, May 22, 2017 (Mihaela Armaselu / U.S. Embassy)

Good evening.  I would like to thank Forbes Romania for the invitation to speak at tonight’s event marking 100 years since Forbes published its first magazine.

When you visit the Forbes website you are greeted with the Forbes “Quote of the Day.”  Last Monday, the quote was, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like hard work.”

That quote is from American inventor Thomas Edison, holder of over one thousand patents.  His life and achievements epitomized the ideal of innovation through applied research.  He always invented for necessity, in order to create something new that could be manufactured and commercialized.

Commercializing research, or “technology transfer,” is an important method for funding entrepreneurial innovation in the United States.  A primary driver of this innovation was a new law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1980.

This law fundamentally changed the American system of technology transfer by enabling universities to retain title to inventions and take the lead in patenting and licensing groundbreaking discoveries.  Before this legislation fewer than 250 patents per year were filed by American universities. Just over a decade later, those same universities filed more than 3,000 patents per year.  This law supported innovative research because American universities were obliged to share the royalties with inventors.

With the right legal framework in place, technology transfer can also play an important role in the future of Romania’s economy.  It could become a significant tool for Romania’s universities and research centers to encourage and fund the innovation that will drive growth in this new creative age.

The innovation culture in the United States – with deep roots in collaboration and knowledge-sharing, respect for diversity, adaptability, and flat organizational structures – catalyzes opportunities.  By encouraging entrepreneurship, risk-taking, and embracing the fact that sometimes with risk there can be failure, this culture offers an added competitive edge to the business community.

The United States wants to share this culture here in Romania through our strategic partnership with Romania.  We want to collaborate with you and help foster a stronger environment for entrepreneurship and innovation.  That is because we want a more dynamic and stronger Romania, because you are such a good partner for the United States.  And it is why we have developed a strategy to support entrepreneurship and innovation in Romania.

Through an Entrepreneur of the Month program, we sought to showcase great local entrepreneurs developing products and services in Romania.  We highlighted individuals and companies in Romania that recognized the potential of a new or emerging business idea, and then developed a focused approach with drive and courage to turn that idea into reality.

It is critical to get Romanian youth involved in recognizing entrepreneurship as a viable career path and last year, we sent three Romanians to the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley, California.

We will also send four young Romanians to the United States this summer as part of our Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative.  This initiative empowers young entrepreneurs and innovators with the tools, networks, and resources they need to grow their enterprises and contribute more fully to economic development and job creation, security, and good governance in the region.  This fellowship will provide a series of professional development and leadership activities that are designed to support the growth and development of commercial and social business ventures here in Romania.

We hosted several visiting scientists to engage with Romanian institutions and research centers to encourage technology transfer.  We supported a major innovation conference in Bucharest and Cluj to highlight and share best practices and lessons learned for fostering and capitalizing on innovation.  We collaborated with the World Bank to propose concrete steps to address changes to the Romanian legal structure needed to facilitate technology transfer.

We work with the Romanian American Foundation to promote reform in Romanian education.  RAF designed an exchange with the University of Rochester in New York to demonstrate to Romanian professors how entrepreneurship is taught in American universities.   This program has become so popular that RAF together with the Fulbright Commission recently agreed to add a third cohort to the 2018-2019 academic year.

We have brought inspiring entrepreneurs to Romania to share their experiences and offer practical advice for starting and growing a business.  We supported demo days, webinars, panels, workshops, presentations, online competitions, seminars in collaboration with the Romanian government and other partners such as Tech Hub, Impact Hub, AmCham, Innovation Labs, Politehnica University, ASE, Romanian American University, Junior Achievement, Codette, and local high schools.

Part of sharing the culture of entrepreneurship and innovation also means bringing people together.  This October we will bring the Trade Winds program, the largest U.S. government-led trade mission ever to come to Romania.  Over 150 representatives from 75 U.S. companies and organizations will be here to try to expand trade and investment between Romania and America.

It has been 100 years since B.C. Forbes and Walter Drey published the first issue of Forbes magazine.  Congratulations to Forbes and Forbes Romania for their excellent contribution to business journalism and thank you for shining a light on the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Thank you for your patience.