services, health care services, or banking services, governments have to be involved to create the conditions for innovation.

Government involvement is also essential for the United States and European countries to compete with up-and-coming countries like China, Aho said. The capacity of the Chinese and Indian governments to create innovative environments is weaker than in the United States, but the United States and Europe are hampered by the fact that they do not have an explicit strategy to compete. “We don’t have awareness of what to do and how to do it,” he said. The United States and European countries can each have their own strategies, but there must also be an agreement to protect common interests.

Eric Haseltine said that the issue is less what the strategy is than who has the strategy. “I am very skeptical that anything the government could do or would do ever will make a difference,” he said. The United States is undergoing a slow erosion of its preeminence in science and technology, in part because the nation does not perceive the current situation as a crisis. The launch of Sputnik in 1957 was a crisis that impelled America to act, but no Sputnik exists today.

The focus of a competitiveness strategy must be on the individual, Haseltine insisted. Both in government and industry, time horizons continue to shrink, and reward cycles are becoming shorter and shorter. So industry is concerned largely with the next quarter, while the intelligence community is focused on the next week because terrorists operate in real time. A vision for tomorrow must pay off for individuals today so that innovation makes both tomorrow and today better. Some of the most important technologies of the past several decades have had revolutionary long-term impacts while also paying off for shareholders in the present. “If there isn’t a strategy that does that, we [will] have no success at all.”

“I am very skeptical that anything the government could do or would do ever will make a difference.”

Eric Haseltine

Ray Stata, in contrast, said that the United States has a “pretty good strategy, and it actually works pretty well.” That strategy is based on the relationship between research universities, the federal government, and industry. “It works remarkably well,” said Stata, “there’s just not enough of it.” Past federal investments have helped produce America’s scientific and industrial success, and continued investments will be necessary for this success to continue. Universities also need the freedom to exercise



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement