Innovating to Innovate?
The world is perched on the frontier of what some call the “fourth industrial revolution.” Life-changing goods, services, and industries will spring from the synergy of advancements in 5G wireless communications, artificial intelligence, robotics, Internet of Things, quantum computing, materials science, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.
The economies and enterprises that lead the maturation and integration of these platforms will prosper greatly and set the pace for societal advancement in the years ahead. While the United States has been the global innovation leader for many years, resting on past laurels in the face of intensifying global competition is a strategy for obsolescence.
Other countries understand the importance of innovation and are taking pages from the U.S. playbook to up their game. Sustaining U.S. economic and geostrategic leadership requires that we continuously improve the national innovation system—implementing new and better ways of cultivating and combining world-class human, financial, and collaborative resources essential for innovation.
In 2012, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation published American Competitiveness. It spotlighted the five main requirements for excelling in the tightly-contested global race to innovate.
- Fix America’s education and immigration systems to keep the pipeline of technical talent flowing strong
- Strengthen public and private-sector research and development
- Bolster cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary connectivity and collaboration
- Reenergize the nation’s manufacturing base
- Modernize America’s patent and IP protection systems
Seven years after the publication of American Competitiveness, how well is the country performing in each of these categories? Despite modest improvement in some areas, the report card is highly concerning, except, perhaps, to the nation’s foreign competitors. Let’s breakdown how and why.