American innovation has helped humanity advance through the industrial era and into the information and technology era. Our commitment to research and development initiatives has spurred the development of countless efficiencies that have improved people’s lives worldwide. Despite our proud history of fostering discovery and innovation, we have steadily reduced our federal funding for research and development as a share of GDP. While U.S. industries have largely increased this spending in the private sector, they will soon be outpaced by China’s private and governmental R&D funding, which places the U.S. at a disadvantage. We must maintain our role as the global leader of business, technology, and innovation to maintain our ability to set the global agenda in critical areas like democratic norms, ethical business practices, human rights, and social equity. I believe we can help improve our innovation ecosystem by focusing on the following:
Streamline Federal Initiatives
We have many federal agencies with their individual technology and R&D offices working on various projects. To better harness the potential of these groups, we need to establish a primary national commission that oversees their development and promotes cooperation between federal agencies, academic institutions, and private industry.
Increase Investment in Research and Development
We must provide more funding to spur discovery and innovation. The federal government must be committed to this initiative by setting national technology goals, increasing R&D grants, and fostering collaboration between government, academic, and private research groups. We must also harness all sectors of the American economy by investing in multiple industries and geographies. Too often, rural America is left out of the conversation about technology and innovation despite our advances potentially providing more jobs in these regions.
Bring Equity to Investment
Innovation often comes from those who have been the most underserved in our communities. We must bring equity to our investments by providing more R&D grants in our economic opportunity zones and our HBCUs.
Foster Emerging Technologies
As innovative technologies emerge, we must provide friendly regulatory environments for their development. An example is the rapid development of blockchain technology. Blockchain is most famous for the rise of cryptocurrencies, but it also offers potential benefits in other markets such as cyber security, banking, personal identity protection, protecting intellectual property rights, and more. We should support these technologies to realize their full potential and benefit.