Fareed Zakaria mentioned the White House Innovation White Paper on his show today… and I was surprised: the white house has a white paper on innovation?! Maybe, that is the Republican/libertarian in me. I expect such white papers to come out of the “Jobs, Gates and Alliances Inc.” industry. I do not expect the government to play a significant role in innovation…
Zakaria went on to elaborate areas of innovation that the government has spurned:
– without the Department of Defense there would be no semi-conductor industry
– NASA was a key buyer of the nascent computer industry
– DARPA invented the internet (sorry Al Gore fans, but that is one of those inconvenient truths)
– it was the military that spawned the use of GPS, way before there was an “app for that”
and that got me thinking, the government does have a role, and a specific role to play in the innovation economy – it is supposed to and should provide a climate for innovation. Not innovation itself, but the climate for innovation:
-a tax structure that facilitates business spending
-investment/spending (depending on if you are a democrat/republican) on research and education (and yes making sure that research is happening on an “operationally excellent” basis)
Singapore spends 6.9% of its budget on innovation – matching that would mean we will have to spend close to $700 billion on innovation climate. We can borrow that from the Chinese, right?! They love giving us money..! Well borrowing $700 billion for innovation climate spending is better than borrowing money from China to fund tax rebates that give $600 to most people (sorry Warren Buffet – you missed out) to spend on Walmart items made in China!
So I guess, by now, I have ideologically left the Republican camp and am on the other side… but practical solutions calls for pragmatism, that does not believe in ideology whose time has come and gone, but in solutions that work. Treating political parties as sports teams is silly… The times are changing and we are still having debates that are based in ideology and are conducted by mostly loud fundamentalist leaders, who are able to get away with euphemisms and political commentators, that take refuge in esoteric concepts…
So, just like Zakaria and other don’t-have-a-team people, I am hoping that President will outline an agenda, that focusses on long term sustainable growth and how we can keep continue to file the most number of patents than any other country out there.
(btw – “China accounted for more than two-thirds of all cleantech IPOs in 2010 – 63 out of 93 launches globally, including 8 of the 10 biggest IPOs.”)