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Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell to Speak Out on Regional Innovation Clusters

Exclusive Global Summit Features Government, Academic and Business Leaders

LA JOLLA, Calif., Nov. 7, 2011 — Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential persons in the world, will lend his voice to a global summit on growing the economy through regional innovation clusters.

Twenty years after Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter introduced the concept of regional innovation clusters — geographic concentrations of firms and industries that do business with each other and have common needs for talent, technology, and infrastructure — many success stories have emerged about the academic partnerships, new financial models and critical role of government.

Regional innovation clusters are now a major focus of economic and policy discussion in both industrialized and developing economies. Hosted by CONNECT, a nonprofit innovation business accelerator, the Global CONNECT Summit will be held December 7-9, 2011 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. The program will examine the role of research funding, regulations and tax incentives, new financing models, academic institutions and commercial organizations building regional innovation clusters and effective mentoring, education, networking and recognition programs for entrepreneurs in the United States and around the world.

The economic virtues of regional innovation clusters are many. A business in a cluster area increases its access to a highly specialized workforce, professional expertise and networks of collaborative synergy. For the past decade national and state/provincial governments have viewed regional innovation clusters as a proven way to create jobs and grow the economy.

For Global CONNECT Summit event details, and to register for the public event, please visit the registration website,

In the wake of the recent recession, a broad range of business leaders, policy analysts and academics have advocated a regional innovation cluster growth model that depends less on bubbles and consumption and more on the production of lasting value in metropolitan economies tied to research universities.

"CONNECT has successfully mobilized the San Diego region's industries, research institutions, capital sources, professional services providers and policymakers over the past 26 years to develop one of the largest innovation hubs in the world," says Camille Saltman, president of CONNECT. "Regional innovation clusters will be participating in the Global CONNECT Summit to learn from San Diego's experiences as well as other successful and evolving models of innovation acceleration, financing and commercialization. Senator Mitchell will help provide a global perspective on the need for government, university researchers, venture capital firms, workforce organizations and catalyst organizations to collaborate in growing regional innovation clusters."

On the world scene, Mitchell most recently served as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace from January 2009 to May 2011. Prior to that he had a distinguished career in public service. He was appointed to the United States Senate in 1980 to complete the unexpired term of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, who resigned to become Secretary of State. Senator Mitchell went on to an illustrious career in the Senate spanning 15 years.

For six consecutive years he was voted "the most respected member" of the Senate by a bipartisan group of senior congressional aides.

In the world of business, Senator Mitchell served as Chairman of the global board of the law firm DLA Piper, the lead sponsor of the Global CONNECT Summit. He was also Chairman of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company; a member of the board of the Boston Red Sox; and a director of several companies, including Federal Express, Xerox, Staples, Unilever and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

In 2000 and 2001, at the request of President Clinton, Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Chairman Yasser Arafat, Senator Mitchell served as Chairman of an International Fact-Finding Committee on violence in the Middle East. The Committee's recommendation, widely known as The Mitchell Report, was endorsed by the Bush Administration, the European Union and by many other governments.

CONNECT has organized the Summit with University of California Extension's Global CONNECT organization. Other presenters include Donna Harris, Managing Director, Start Up America; Irwin Jacobs, PhD, co-founder of Qualcomm and Chair of the Board of Trustees of Salk Institute; and Mary Walshok, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Public Programs and Dean of UC San Diego Extension, and co-author of Closing America's Job Gap.

Sponsors of the summit include DLA Piper, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the Consulate of Canada. Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom will be represented by presenters or attendees.

Attendance is limited to 100 people, with a limit of three attendees per organization, to allow for ample opportunity for both presentations and networking. The cost to attend is $1,500 per person (lodging not included).

Media contact:
Henry DeVries
858-534-9955 or 619-540-3031

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