From the Economist Innovation Conference: White House Adviser Christina Romer Speaks on Innovation as a Job Engine

White House economics adviser Christina Romer spoke about innovation – whether driven by science or the market – as a key engine of job growth Tuesday before a sold-out audience at the Economist conference “The Ideas Economy: Innovation” at the Haas School.

“Innovation needs the right environment,” said Romer, chair of the White House Council of Economics Advisers, citing science and math education, intellectual property rights, and rewards for sensible risk taking. She offered clean energy as a great example of innovation with double externalities — both economic and green benefits. Which clean energy sources win out would ultimately be up to the entrepreneurs who develop them, Romer said.

Romer was interviewed by Greg Ip, the Economist’s US economics editor, at the end of the first day of the conference, which ran March 23-24. Their conversation complemented an all-star lineup, ranging from UCLA Professor Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel, to former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, now a UC Berkeley professor, to Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post blog site.

Ariana Huffington, editor in chief of the Huffington Post, talks with Matthew Bishop of the Economist in a conversation titled "Is America a third world country?" during the Economist's innovation conference at the Haas School.

The conference drew more than 300 attendees, whose tweets on the event could be followed at

The schedule Wednesday featured an interview with Pixar and Disney Animation Studios President Ed Catmull titled “What is a creative company?” (See related article.) The day also included panel discussions on successful failure, the economics of innovation, the hybrid problem-solver, and the end of health care as we know it.

The afternoon featured innovation teams formed to develop new solutions to current problems in such fields as energy, health care, and finance. Dean Rich Lyons led the finance team while Sara Beckman, faculty director of the UC Berkeley Management of Technology Program, participated in a team focused on rethinking business models.