Teetering on the Edge of Innovation
According to NYTimes.com, “the competitive edge of the United States economy has eroded sharply over the last decade …”
According to a number of recent studies about global innovation and competitiveness, this appears to be true. While great for the rest of the world, the United States desperately needs to differentiate and seek relevance in the global arena.
“The United States is not the runaway leader in global competitiveness that some believe it to be.” Out of the 40 countries ITIF studied, the United States had made the least amount of progress in “improvement in international competitiveness and innovation capacity over the last decade.”
– The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF) February 2009 study, “The Atlantic Century: Benchmarking EU & U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness”
“In today’s global economy, the need to stay one step ahead of the competition is even more urgent – especially for industries in the United States. The emergence of challenges from rapidly developing economies such as India, China, Brazil and Eastern Europe has transformed the playing field.”
– The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), The Manufacturing Institute and the National Manufacturing Association (NAM), March 2009 study “The Innovation Imperative in Manufacturing: How the United States can Restore its Edge”
“Although many people assume that the United States will always be a world leader in science and technology, this may not continue to be the case inasmuch as great minds and ideas exist throughout the world.”
– National Academies’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century in 2007 report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future”
Luckily, for the United States, but not so much for the rest of the world, these studies all propose recommendations for the U.S. government to boost innovation activities. Over the next few days, I will summarize their recommendations and explain why I think they’re important to U.S. competitiveness:
- Strengthen the workforce by improving education and welcoming highly skilled immigrants.
- Incent innovation with funding, tax credits, and intellectual property protection.
- Support institutions, such as universities and research laboratories, that are necessary for innovation. Make government labs more accessible.
According to the three aforementioned studies, government actions in these areas will, as the National Academies report said, “ensure that the United Sates is the premier place in the world for innovation.”
Do you think the United States is falling behind the rest of the world in innovation? What should it do to retain its edge?
Kathie Thomas is the Director of Innovation and a senior partner at Fleishman-Hillard. The global Innovation practice group Kathie leads offers proven tools and approaches for helping organizations and teams inject a new level of innovation and productivity into their strategic planning and program development.