If the U.S. economy is to regain its international competitiveness, especially vis-à-vis China, it will have to accelerate innovation, including in advanced-industry production. There is a growing consensus from both Democrats and Republicans that the federal government needs to play a stronger role in that process. So how is the federal government doing? Not so well, if you think that government needs to approach innovation success in a similar way as the most innovative corporations.
This briefing provides an update on energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) in the federal fiscal year (FY) 2020 appropriations process, building on ITIF’s summary of the administration’s budget request. It compares the House Energy & Water appropriations bill with the request, and identifies what to look for, particularly in the Senate, as negotiations over the budget resume after Congress returns from recess.
Engineers and scientists routinely push society forward with innovations that contribute to economic growth and make our lives safer, healthier, and more sustainable. Today, the STEM sector is experiencing rapid growth. But as our world faces increasingly complex issues like climate change, cybersecurity, and election interference, the lack of gender and racial diversity within science, technology, engineering and math fields threatens to stall progress toward solutions.
Inventors like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla obtained patents to protect their many inventions, which in turn grew the U.S. economy. Today their inventions would easily be dismissed by courts as not even eligible for patenting. The lightbulb and alternating current generators would be characterized as either abstract, a law of nature or a building block of technology. Modern critics would minimize the magnitude of their inventions by saying that these great inventors simply had a good idea and told the world to apply it.
It’s no accident that mergers are increasing as our economy continues to transform through technology, which itself is driven by corporate investment. Tech has been a key driver of current economic growth -- likely even greater than we’ve been able to measure -- but the spending on research and development needed to bring new innovations to market is frequently risky, costly and complex.
The Apollo program wasn’t all about getting us to the Moon. Innovation and technology developed for those lunar voyages often have had second lives here on planet Earth. Here are eight examples.
The Stronger Patents Act helps move the patent system back toward inventors by clarifying the rules around an open-ended administrative patent court that Congress created in 2011. Since the creation of the new administrative court, the administrative boondoggle has been used by infringers, crony interests, and Big Tech to help stifle innovation and harm inventors.
Innovation -- it’s one of the most elusive and yet important concepts in our world. With the rapid pace of technology, the word conjures thoughts of a Hyperloop, SpaceX moon voyages and other grandiose concepts that are part real, part science fiction. We often credit this rise to the boom in Silicon Valley decades ago, where our world seemed to evolve almost instantly. That era was the dawn of many products and services that have become integral to the fabric of our daily lives.
Now in its 12th edition, the GII is a global benchmark that helps policy makers better understand how to stimulate and measure innovative activity, a main driver of economic and social development. The GII 2019 ranks 129 economies based on 80 indicators, from traditional measurements like research and development investments and international patent and trademark applications to newer indicators including mobile-phone app creation and high-tech exports.
The United States reclaimed its ranking in the top five countries in the world for economic innovation, while China climbed from 17th to 14th position in the new list of nearly 130 nations released Wednesday. The Global Innovation Index 2019 released by the U.N. intellectual property agency, one of its co-sponsors, says “innovation is blossoming around the world” despite an economic slowdown, brewing trade battles and high economic uncertainty.