The Honorable Dr. Walter G. Copan is Senior Adviser and co-founder of the Renewing American Innovation Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. From 2017 to 2021 he served as Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and 16th Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), having been unanimously confirmed by the Senate. He was the U.S. principal presidential advisor on standards policy and technology, and provided high level oversight and strategic leadership for NIST, a world-leading science and technology institute. Under his widely-acclaimed leadership, he spearheaded streamlining and modernization of foundational policies and practices for innovation and technology transfer arising from federally funded research to benefit the economy and society.
He is a distinguished leader with wide-ranging experience spanning large company, entrepreneurial tech startup, U.S. Government, non-profit and other public sector settings. For the U.S. Government, he also served with two of the Department of Energy National Laboratories: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory. He is a sought-after speaker and thought leader on matters of science and technology, strategy, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, intellectual property, licensing and innovation.
Walter began his career in R&D, business leadership and new ventures at The Lubrizol Corporation. He earned undergraduate degrees in chemistry and music, and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Case Western Reserve University, and completed advanced business administration studies at Harvard Business School.
Case Western Reserve University recognized Walter as Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2008. In 2018 he was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. He was also recognized by AUTM with its 2021 Bayh-Dole Award for leadership in innovation and technology transfer.