BRT Innovation Summit: Transitioning Innovation from Lab to Market

National Science Foundation Director, CEOs of Qualcomm and Blackstone Highlight Importance of Long-Term U.S. Investments in Underlying Technologies

December 6, 2018

Washington – As part of today’s Business Roundtable CEO Innovation Summit, top leaders from business and government participated in a panel discussion on “Transitioning Innovations from Lab to Market.” The conversation featured France Córdova, Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and former NASA Chief Scientist, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf and Blackstone CEO and Co-Founder Steve Schwarzman. Yael Taqqu, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company, moderated the discussion.

Click the image above to watch the full “Lab to Market” panel featuring France Córdova, Steve Mollenkopf, Steve Schwarzman and McKinsey’s Yael Taqqu (moderator).


France Córdova, NSF Director and former NASA Chief Scientist, on focusing on big, long-term innovation opportunities:

“If you have something that you think is a terrific opportunity, you should just pursue it. If it's not, don't. Pursue it as long as you have to and as long as you have a giant size market and you think you have something special, because when you win in that game, you really win big.”

Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm, on taking action in pursuit of technology-driven generational opportunities:

“We're always focused on what is the next big generational change in wireless because we bet on the technology change. We don't bet on the particular market structure...I think successful organizations are driven by the opportunity as opposed to what happens if something goes wrong.”

Steve Schwarzman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone, on the need to invest in people and ideas to create the opportunities of the future:

“I would argue that the reason why you have those [generational] opportunities to look at is because you invest in really smart people and take risks on their ideas. Take a look at 3D printing, additive manufacturing. NSF funded the very first grant when everybody said this is crazy stuff...Then its grown into its various forms, developed into small companies and then larger companies. And the same thing with search engines. We were funding search engine before Google was a household name.”

More information about the Business Roundtable CEO Innovation Summit, including additional highlights and upcoming panels, can be found at