SUSTAINING A FLOW OF NEW IDEAS
Those involved in development issues have increasingly recognized the critical role played by innovation in assuring success in the global market place, he continued. In the United States, the economy depends heavily on a continuous and open flow of new technologies and new ideas. Sustaining and encouraging that inherent capacity is a top priority in attempting to maintain America’s economic leadership. This emphasis, he said, was reflected by the President’s 2011 State of the Union speech. “I don’t think we’ve ever heard a State of the Union address so focused on innovation and our country’s commitment to support it,” he said.
This commitment begins with several building blocks, Mr. Fernandez said: people, ideas, and networks. First, innovation is possible only through the actions of a skilled and talented work force, and strengthening this work force is the beginning point of the administration’s strategy. The second building block is continued investment in basic research to accelerate the knowledge breakthroughs that mark the beginning of the innovation cycle. The President proposed doubling the nation’s investments in R&D, and eventually increasing them to the level of 3 percent of GDP. Third, an innovation economy depends on modern infrastructural networks, including the smart grid, next generation air traffic control, new wireless communications systems, and other systems that move people and ideas with speed and efficiency.
REMOVING BARRIERS TO INNOVATION
While investing in these building blocks, he said, the Administration is also working to remove barriers to innovation. It is attempting to improve the patent system, both to increase the quality and quantity of patents and to reduce delays in processing. The Administration is also reviewing federal regulations to assure that rules facilitate rather than impede competition and innovation. To help ensure an environment in which small and large business can thrive, the President called for major tax reforms, including making permanent the research and development tax credit and bringing the corporate tax structure more closely in line with many of OECD counterparts.
Finally, the strategy supports entrepreneurs through initiatives like Startup America, launched by the White House in January 2011 to promote entrepreneurship across the country. Startup America is investing $2 billion to help entrepreneurs by lowering barriers to high-potential, fast-growing small companies, especially in high-tech fields such as clean energy, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.
The Obama administration, Mr. Fernandez said, has recognized that the strength of the national economy depends on the strength of its regional components. In fundamental ways, the President’s innovation strategy depends on the cities, counties, and states where innovation actually occurs. A basic decision by this Administration has been to press for greater coordination among