…it seems like everyone’s trying to figure out how to make it happen. I spent one day last week at the Forbes Leadership Network Conference titled “America the Innovator”. As would be expected at an event in Silicon Valley, the crowd was a mix of tech company execs, VCs, start up CEOs and consultants…all looking for the holy grail of innovation while the economy plummeted in the backdrop.

For me, the most interesting speaker was John Kao, an “Innovation Strategist” and author. He spoke about traveling the world helping governments create innovation programs that helped grow talent and incubate ideas – from Singapore’s Biopolis that is plucking some of the best scientific talent from around the globe to conduct world class research to Finland’s University of Innovation that has brought together that country’s leading Technology, Economics and Design schools to fuel innovation.

Having lived in Silicon Valley for most of my life, I’m not sure how big government’s role in innovation should be. But there was one point I did agree with John on – to innovate you need to educate, especially in the areas of math and science. And this is an area where government does have an important role. This is something that Intel Chairman Craig Barrett often speaks about on Capitol Hill and as he did recently in this Business Week interview.

But I’m interested in hearing your thoughts, what should the role of government be in innovation (especially in light of an economic meltdown)?