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Innovation in INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
motivations, resulting in differences in style, focus, and time horizon (1-3,7,8).
Companies have little incentive to invest significantly in activities whose benefits will spread quickly to their rivals (1,3,7). Fundamental research often falls into this category. By contrast, the vast majority of corporate research and development (R&D) addresses product and process development (1,2,4).
Government funding for research has leveraged the effective decision making of visionary program managers and program office directors from the research community, empowering them to take risks in designing programs and selecting grantees (1,3). Government sponsorship of research especially in universities also helps to develop the IT talent used by industry, universities, and other parts of the economy (1-5).
The economic payoff of research
Past returns on federal investments in IT research have been extraordinary for both U.S. society and the U.S. economy (1,3). The transformative effects of IT grow as innovations build on one another and as user know-how compounds. Priming that pump for tomorrow is today's challenge.
When companies create products using the ideas and workforce that result from federally sponsored research, they repay the nation in jobs, tax revenues, productivity increases, and world leadership (1,3,5).
The themes highlighted above underlie two recurring and overarching recommendations evident in the eight CSTB reports cited:
Recommendation 1 The federal government should continue to boost funding levels for fundamental information technology research, commensurate with the growing scope of research challenges (2-4,6-8). It should ensure that the major funding agencies, especially the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, have strong and sustained programs for computing and communications research that are broad in scope and independent of any special initiatives that might divert resources from broadly based basic research (2,3).
Recommendation 2 The government should continue to maintain the special qualities of federal IT research support, ensuring that it complements industrial research and development in emphasis, duration, and scale (1-4,6).
This report addresses the ways that past successes can guide federal funding policy to sustain the IT revolution and its contributions to other fields.