Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Innovating on a National Level

After yesterday and today’s post on NassbaumOnDesign’s post on Barack Obama’s position on innovation I had a brief email exchange with our colleagues and LinkedIn group members, Parna Sarkar-Basu and Jim Todhunter, of Invention Machine. Jim is CTO at Invention Machine and he had posted some comments to Nassbaum’s original post, at an hour that makes me wonder if he sleeps. But Jim offered some really interesting insights on the topic. I thought I’d share and invite folks to add their comments here and tell us what you all think.

James Todhunter

May 30, 2008 02:49 AM

There are many aspects that a comprehensive National Innovation Policy should address. While a quick comment on your blog post is unlikely to do justice to the topic, the key topics that I would like to see included are:

Education
Let’s face it. The most important resource in the new age of global innovation competition is brain-power, and our educational system is failing. We need to stop flapping our gums on this topic and begin transforming our educational system with the objective of producing the type of innovation workers that future economic success requires.

Infrastructure
While there are several potential dimensions to this, here I simply want to second your comment on high-speed data connectivity. The rumors of the death of the information age are highly premature. The growth in demand for information transmission is causing our current infrastructure to creak. It is definitely time to get ahead of this coming problem.

Intellectual Property
We need to ensure that our intellectual property is adequately protected abroad. At home, we need to retool the PTO to keep up with the volume of applications.

Bayh-Dole Act
This 1980’s legislation should be reconsidered. It has its staunch defenders, but it wasn’t the right way to accomplish its goal and hasn’t really done so. For more on this, see http://www.innovatingtowin.com/innovating_to_win/2008/03/time-to-rethink.html

Basic Research Support
Funding for basic research support should be strengthened for public research, and R&D credits protected for private research.

Immigration
This is a delicate issue that must be examined carefully. We just don’t have all the skilled innovation workers to fill our needs today. So, we do need to provide access to global resources to fuel our innovation engine. However, any policy must also consider the transportability of innovation skills and the phenomenon of brain-drain.

Open Markets
We provide the most open markets in the world. We must work to ensure that we have a level playing field and encourage other markets to move in the direction of becoming more open.

Personal Data Privacy
A growing segment of innovation is built on data. A looming threat is a meltdown in this sector based on poor data protection and personal security provisions. We should act to fend off this threat before it becomes a difficult problem to address.

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