THE CONTEXT OF THIS REPORT

Since 1991 the STEP Board has undertaken a program of activities to improve policy makers’ understanding of the interconnections among science, technology, and economic policy and their importance to the American economy and its international competitive position. The board’s interest in comparative innovation policies derives directly from its mandate.

This mandate is reflected in STEP’s earlier work on U.S. competitiveness, U.S. Industry in 2000, which assesses the determinants of competitive performance in a wide range of manufacturing and service industries, including those relating to information technology.4 The Board also undertook a major study, chaired by Gordon Moore of Intel, on how government–industry partnerships can support the growth and commercialization of productivity-enhancing technologies.5 Reflecting a growing recognition of the importance of the surge in productivity since 1995, the Board also launched a multifaceted assessment, exploring the sources of growth, measurement challenges, and the policy framework required to sustain the information and communications technology-based productivity gains and growth that have characterized the United States since the mid 1990s.6

Building on this experience, STEP’s current study on Comparative Innovation Policy is developing a case-based international comparative analysis focused on U.S. and foreign innovation programs. The analysis includes a review of the goals, concept, structure, operation, funding levels, and evaluation of foreign programs similar to major U.S. programs, such as those found in Japan, Taiwan, Flanders in Belgium and now India. Among other activities, this study is convening a series of meetings with senior officials and academic analysts of these and other countries who are engaged in the operation and evaluation of these programs overseas, to gain a first-hand understanding of the goals, challenges, and accomplishments of these programs. As reflected in the conference reported in this volume, the National Academies Committee on Comparative Innovation Policy is also considering the role of innovation systems abroad and opportunities for collaboration that can complement the strengths of the U.S. innovation system in a globalizing innovation ecosystem.

4

National Research Council, U.S. Industry in 2000: Studies in Competitive Performance, David C. Mowery, ed., Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1999.

5

This summary of a multivolume study provides the Moore Committee’s analysis of best practices among key U.S. public–private partnerships. See National Research, Government–Industry Partnerships for the Development of New Technologies: Summary Report, Charles W. Wessner, ed., Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2003. For a list of U.S. partnership programs, see Christopher Coburn and Dan Berglund, Partnerships: A Compendium of State and Federal Cooperative Programs, Columbus, OH: Battelle Press, 1995.

6

National Research Council, Enhancing Productivity Growth in the Information Age: Measuring and Sustaining the New Economy, Dale W. Jorgenson and Charles W. Wessner, eds., Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press, 2006.



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