Sep
30

"Innovation!" the President shouts again

This summer a student in my Depaul Mindset of Innovation course was researching U.S. government policy on innovation, and he claimed to be unable to find anything updated in years. He ended up talking as much about Canada’s innovation policy as that in the U.S.

Now, that’s not completely fair, as American innovation policy has not been entirely absent in the past decade, but Obama clearly is ringing the Innovation bell a lot louder. Last week, as I drove through the beautiful, purple-specked I-80 in Pennsylvania on a road trip East, Obama spoke nearby in New York’s Hudson Valley, once again emphasizing the importance of innovation for our economy, as he did in early August.

“So as we invest in the building blocks of innovation, from the classroom to the laboratory,” Obama told the crowd, “it’s also essential that we have competitive and vibrant markets that promote innovation, as well. Education and research help foster new ideas, but it takes fair and free markets to turn those ideas into industries.”


Click here to read the transcript of Obama’s talk on innovation.

As I’ll write about in my next blog, there has been innovation initiatives during the past decade that have had national aspirations and some impact. But Obama’s continuing focus on the Innovation Imperative–that we as a country and a culture need to embrace creativity and innovation to ensure a successful future–seems different and substantive. The White House calls it the Obama Innovation Strategy, which includes the following three parts:

1. Invest in the Building Blocks of American Innovation, from investments in research and development to the human, physical, and technological capital needed to perform that research and transfer those innovations.
2. Promote Competitive Markets that Spur Productive Entrepreneurship.
It is imperative to create a national environment ripe for entrepreneurship and risk taking that allows U.S. companies to be internationally competitive in a global exchange of ideas and innovation.
3. Catalyze Breakthroughs for National Priorities. Governmental can help support sectors of exceptional national importance–including alternative energy sources, health IT, and manufacturing advanced vehicles–that markets alone cannot make happen.

Now, the skeptics in us realize that another talk that is still urging that “we are ready” to do this may or may not lead to real change. But I believe the more innovation becomes part of our national conversation, the more likely we are to embrace our creative potential and proactively shape our future rather than letting it shape us.

Read more from  Adam at his Innovation on my Mind blog

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