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Mountain West Innovation Summit at UW Unites National Leaders to Advance U.S. Competitiveness

June 13, 2022
Tony Aquila Erwin Gianchandani Gov. Mark Gordon Greg Hill Ed Seidel John Wagner Deborah Wince-Smith

The University of Wyoming will host distinguished leaders from across American industry, higher education, national laboratories and government to develop concrete policy recommendations aimed at keeping the United States at the forefront of innovation and economic competitiveness. 

The Mountain West Innovation Summit will take place June 21-22 at UW’s Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center. It is co-hosted by Ed Seidel, UW president; Greg Hill, president and chief operating officer of Hess Corporation and a UW alumnus; John Wagner, director of Idaho National Laboratory; and Deborah Wince-Smith, president and CEO of the Council on Competitiveness. All four hosts are national commissioners of the council’s flagship initiative, the National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers.

The summit brings together leaders to address opportunities to expand the country’s “geography of innovation” to the Mountain West and places such as Laramie. The national commission’s seminal report, “Competing in the Next Economy,” as well as significant work in Washington, D.C., and around the country, is focusing on strategies to broaden and deepen the country’s innovation capabilities. The summit also will focus on three additional critical issues facing the region and nation, including the future of:

-- Sustainability and energy.

-- Scaling and deploying disruptive technologies.

-- Work and the workforce.

“We’re delighted that Wyoming’s university is hosting a summit that will bring together a rich mix of stakeholders and policymakers to discuss and develop policy recommendations regarding some of the major challenges facing the nation,” Seidel says. “Today’s economy is changing at an unprecedented speed, and universities, companies, states and nations are scrambling to adapt. Partnerships across these industry players are critical as we work to lay the groundwork for the new economy in Wyoming as a fundamental part of UW’s land-grant mission.”

Among the keynote speakers confirmed for the summit are Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon; National Science Foundation (NSF) Assistant Director Erwin Gianchandani, who is leading NSF’s newest directorate in over 30 years, focusing on “Technology, Innovation and Partnerships”; and Canoo Technologies CEO Tony Aquila, who is manufacturing electric vehicles in the United States, making the case for researching, innovating and manufacturing at scale in the United States.

“The United States has stood apart from the rest of the world during the past half-century in its record of sustained innovation -- across industries old and new, and through the ups and downs of economic cycles -- yet today faces new realities and imperatives,” Wince-Smith says. “We must be more creative, more intentional in developing new models for regional and national innovation. Our work in Wyoming is a first step toward this effort for our National Commission on Innovation and Competitiveness Frontiers.”

For more information about the summit, including the agenda and details on free registration, go to

About the University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming was founded in 1886, when Wyoming was still a territory. In September 1887, UW opened its doors to 42 students and five faculty members -- as befitted the university of “The Equality State,” both the students and faculty included women from the first day. UW has since grown into a major teaching and research university with approximately 11,500 students and more than 700 faculty members, offering over 200 programs of study.

UW combines major-university benefits and small-school advantages. Students generally experience small class sizes, affording easy access to faculty. Faculty members are internationally renowned for their research and scholarship and are innovative and creative teachers. The university is a leader of the Wyoming Innovation Partnership, which is working to modernize and focus Wyoming’s efforts to develop a resilient workforce and economy.

About Hess Corporation

Hess Corporation is a leading global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. The company is recognized as an industry leader in environmental, social and governance performance and disclosure.

About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages Idaho National Laboratory (INL) for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, and it also performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment.

About the Council on Competitiveness

For more than three decades, the Council on Competitiveness has championed a competitiveness agenda for the United States to attract investment and talent and spur the commercialization of new ideas. While the players may have changed since its founding in 1986, the mission remains as vital as ever -- to enhance U.S. productivity and raise the standard of living for all Americans.

The members of the council -- CEOs, university presidents, labor leaders and national lab directors -- represent a powerful, nonpartisan voice that sets aside politics and seeks results. By providing real-world perspective to policymakers, the council’s private-sector network makes an impact on decision-making across a broad spectrum of issues -- from the cutting edge of science and technology, to the democratization of innovation, to the shift from energy weakness to strength that supports the growing renaissance in U.S. manufacturing. The council firmly believes that, with the right policies, the strengths and potential of the U.S. economy far outweigh the current challenges the nation faces on the path to higher growth and greater opportunity for all Americans.


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