Innovation America Innovation America Accelerating the growth of the GLOBAL entrepreneurial innovation economy
Founded by Rich Bendis

AURP: The Power of Place 2.0: The Power of InnovationThe United States is home to the world’s first research park, launched in 1951 at Stanford University. In the sixty years since, another 170 university-related research parks have sprung up across the country, promoting innovation, incubating technology, and stimulating economic growth. Today, however, the United States has lost its lead. China, India, and Korea are home to the world’s largest research parks, developed by their national governments, attracting global research and development companies from afar to their shores.

In 1981, Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act, giving universities the lead role in transferring technology into the private sector from federally supported research. Such research contributes anywhere from $47 billion to $187 bil- lion annually to our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). Other countries have copied the U.S. university commercialization model, with the result, for example, that universities in the United Kingdom now have a better record than U.S. universities in technology commercialization.

Financial entrepreneurs in the United States created the venture capital investment system, launching new technology companies such as Google, Genentech, and Microsoft. Dan Senor and Saul Singer’s best-selling study Start-Up Nation tells the story of the country with the world’s highest density of new technology companies. That country isn’t the United States—it’s Israel.

The United States was one of the first countries to offer a corporate research and development tax credit, and its government led the world in its gener- osity to funding knowledge and innovation. Now the U.S. tax credit ranks seventeenth among leading developed countries.

In nearly every critical area of technology-led economic development, the United States was the originator or the leader. Now we lag far behind the competition. On this matter, Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke commented to the President’s Council on Science and Technology (PCAST). “America has a broken innovation ecosystem that does not efficiently create the right incentives or allocate enough resources to generate new ideas, de- velop those ideas with focused research, and turn them into businesses that can create good jobs. . . . America simply does not have an efficient system to take new ideas from government, academic, and private-sector research labs and translate them into commercially viable products and businesses.”

Adds Krisztina Holly, executive director of the University of Southern Califor- nia’s Stevens Institute for Innovation, “Currently, the federal government is investing nearly $50 billion a year on university research—yet barely a dime on university programs to help translate the most promising ideas into new businesses and employment opportunities. That’s like turning up the water pressure but never opening up the faucet.”

Clearly the United States is still the world’s largest economy. The United States has the largest number of innovators and entrepreneurs, and the world’s best higher-education and research system. With the “rise of the rest,” as it has been called, the United States needs to meet the global technology competition and recapture its former vigor in taking the lead in innovation. Yet, with looming federal deficits, our government does not have unlimited resources to spend.

Even so, the federal government, through interagency programs and policies, needs to increase the alignment among our research universities, university research parks, technology incubators, sponsored program offices, corporate relations offices, and technology-transfer officials to meet better our nation’s global technology competition.

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