We’re still rated highly for Innovation by all the major global benchmarks, but the chinks in our armor are substantial. How can we create a regulatory and economic environment that supports and nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship?

Here we explore six essential questions at the heart of innovation and entrepreneurship. Don’t just read this brief; engage with it, providing feedback along the way. Your voice will shape the conversation, define the issues, and help the community drive meaningful change across our nation.

Where do we stand?

The Innovation Environment in Context

Innovation is this nation’s signature economic strength and has been for generations. American ideas and the products they spawned have literally changed the world. They have also driven the wealth and job creation that has made us an economic superpower. Pragmatic innovation remains a strength today, but no nation can rest on its laurels. We’re still rated highly for Innovation by all the major global benchmarks, but the chinks in our armor are substantial. For example, given the central role technology plays in the modern world being ranked 51st in the Quality of Math and Science Education is deeply troubling. Other red flags include our crumbling infrastructure, high tech manufacturing moving offshore and a small business sector that’s struggling. These issues represent major risks to our long term innovation leadership. For this nation to flourish we need to honor and invest in those things that support and sustain creativity – not just give them lip service. A robust innovation ecosystem doesn’t occur by accident – it needs to be systematically cultivated. Right now we’re at best holding our ground, but that’s far different than playing to win.

Are you onboard? Join the movement:

Where are we headed?

A glimpse at our future

American creativity and ingenuity isn’t going away even if we keep playing our hand poorly. However it’s really important that we benefit more fully from our ideas and invite as many citizens as possible to join in and contribute. For example, if we continue to build our highest value-added products abroad our competitors will continue to close the gap. If we accept our current level of math and science educational performance we won’t have the people necessary to drive the next wave of innovation. If we continue to be over reliant on a few communities hugging our coastlines for thought leadership and entrepreneurship – prosperity will remain localized rather than more widespread. If we continue to make it so hard for our entrepreneurs and small business owners to thrive fewer good ideas will have a chance to gain traction and produce well-paying jobs.

Sure we’re an innovation leader right now, but our economic foundations need attention and our skill at leveraging American ingenuity for broad-based national benefit leaves substantial room for improvement.

Watch these videos for two different perspectives on our innovation future

What's at stake?

Jobs, Creativity and the Future

Throughout history innovation has been critical to any nation’s strength, security and prosperity. However, the stakes are going ever higher due to the accelerating rate of technological change. The same forces that can render a global industry leader irrelevant in just a few years (remember when a Blackberry was cool?) are impacting countries as well. The rate of change isn’t quite as dramatic, but a single generation is more than enough time for an entire nation to rise or fall – and trying to stand still just isn’t a viable option. The fact is that millions of jobs that seem secure today won’t exist in a decade and whole industries will be overturned. The only effective way to ride out this level of change is to be a nation forging new industries and therefore generating rewarding new jobs and sources of wealth.

What's holding up progress?

Our national governance process is more focused on the tactical than the strategic – the short term not the long haul. The vast majority of people in government are smart and care deeply about America. They have families too and know getting this right is essential to their children’s future. But the people at their door every day aren’t pushing for this, the people writing their campaign checks aren’t focused on this and the threats they face at the ballot box don’t hinge on this. Business leaders are in a similar boat. They overwhelmingly see this problem and would like to see it addressed. In fact, many have done creative and impactful things on the local and regional level to spur innovation. But when they look at this issue on a national level they feel it’s beyond their reach. And it is – only a coalition that includes government, business and the social sector can gain real traction on this nation’s biggest and most complex economic challenges. And that will never happen until enough mainstream citizens join together and make it a priority – thereby getting it on the radar for all the political and institutional players involved. That’s how change impacting the nation’s interest as a whole has always been achieved in America – and this is no exception.

What are the core
issues & challenges?

A multifaceted approach to reform

  • Maintaining Our Strengths
  • Address the Education Gap
  • Strengthen Vital Partnerships
  • Advance Manufacturing
  • IP and Cybersecurity
  • Tax/Regulatory Policies
  • Authentic Free Enterprise
  • We can't take our existing strengths for granted - we need to ramp up support of our research universities and culture of entrepreneurship, as well as renewing our focus on basic research.
  • We must better align what we teach in our schools with the skills necessary to thrive in the future. Immigration reforms related to high skill foreign students may play a role here too.
  • Authentically leverage the core competencies of our government, business and social sector efforts.
  • Evaluate 'out of the box' reforms such as linking increased reshoring with corporate tax reforms.
  • Determine the optimal balance between freedom and risk management.
  • Focus especially on making it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to thrive.
  • Rather than a system that stacks the deck in favor of the biggest and best connected players, put more focus on broad-based economic development than rent seeking.

How can you help move
the nation forward?

A call to every American

Without your help and the support of enough other citizens we’ll never move far enough or fast enough on innovation. What can you do today to help? An important first step is providing feedback on this innovation briefing book – what you liked, what’s missing, what you think we got wrong – anything and everything you feel should be done to make it better. All it takes to make a meaningful contribution is to click on the survey link below right now and invest a few minutes to improve innovation in America!

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