The innovation agendas and precise policies differ from country to country, based on national needs and aspirations. In some cases, governments are implementing policies modeled after those of the United States. In others, they are borrowing from successful models pioneered in Europe and East Asia that leaders regard as more attuned to the competitive realities of the 21st century global economy. In that regard, other nations’ experiences offer valuable lessons for policymakers in the U.S. federal government, regions, and states.
To better understand global trends in innovation policy, the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) conducted an extensive dialogue over the past several years to compare and contrast policies of many nations. This section presents a number of case studies from those symposia and our research. While it is of course difficult to generalize, a number of common policy themes recurred through this extensive dialogue. They include:
• The paramount importance of investment in education to provide the skills base upon which an innovation-led economy is based.
• The value of increasing public and private investment in research and development, with at least 3 percent of GDP generally viewed as a desired target.
• The importance of establishing a far-thinking national innovation strategy that lays out broad science and technology priorities and a policy framework that addresses the entire ecosystem, including skilled talent, commercialization of research, entrepreneurship, and access to capital. Such national strategies require attention of top political leadership, coordination of government agencies, sustained funding, and collaboration with stakeholders at the regional and local level.
• An increasingly prominent role for public-private partnership in which industry, academia, and government pool resources to accelerate the translation of new technologies into the marketplace.
• A recognition that while universities’ primary roles are education and research, they also can serve as powerful engines of economic growth if granted greater freedom to collaborate with industry and to commercialize inventions.
• Focus on programs to encourage firms to transform basic and applied research into new products and manufacturing processes.
• Greater policy emphasis on the institutional framework needed to sustain new business creation, such as intellectual property-right protection, competitive tax codes, and an efficient and transparent regulatory bureaucracy.
This chapter will describe how different nations studied by the STEP Board are addressing these and other issues. The chapter describes the innovation policy approaches of nations at three tiers of development.