Economist’s The World in 2010 Conference
I recently participated in a panel discussion as part of the Economist’s The World in 2010 event in Washington D.C. Facilitated by Mathew Bishop, Business Editor of The Economist, the panel included: Dean Kamen (Founder, Segway), Kai Huang (Co-Founder, The Guitar Hero), and Rob Carlson (Principal, Biodesic). The panel focused on the state of innovation and predictions for the year. The conversation was both timely and lively. C-SPAN has repeatedly rebroadcast the panel. Worth a watch.
My Innovation Prediction for 2010? That policy makers would finally promote innovation to the forefront of their agendas, in the US and around the world. I noted that overhauls of the entire system are necessary in areas including patent law, immigration and work visa policy, education (particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine), grant making and funding.
We have incredibly important work to do and profound problems to tackle, from curing diseases to climate change, and now is the time for governments to “get it right,” particularly in terms of the structural elements that enable and empower true invention and meaningful progress. Have we created a “land of opportunity” for scientists, inventors, universities, companies, and entrepreneurs? Do we have a culture of collaboration and information sharing? Or have we created an expensive and divisive system of trade secrets, laws, patents, and inefficient investment? The problems exist in academia and other areas as they do in the commercial space. Fresh and bold thinking is crucial and policy makers have an opportunity to offer real leadership.
Now, more than a month since the World in 2010 predictions were made, everyone’s attention is squarely focused on jobs and budget deficits. Clearly governments are faced with difficult choices. I sense that boldness and a willingness to champion a desperately needed innovation agenda will not be rewarded in Washington. Privately I hear that now may be the worst time to push change. Status quo.
In my opinion, courage and focus around innovation is absolutely vital. We need to invest heavily in planting the seeds of recovery and a vibrant future. Innovation has always driven short and long term growth, INCLUDING jobs growth and GDP expansion. Now is precisely the time to implement a bold and strategic innovation agenda (investment and meaningful policy reform) in the US and around the world. Budget deficits notwithstanding, the “Inconvenient Truth” is that this is the only prudent and sustainable path forward and lawmakers need to step up now more than ever.
What do YOU think?