Flat-panel displays, lithium ion batteries, digital mobile handsets, notebook computers and photovoltaic cells and panels are just a few of the products created with technologies invented in the United States, but largely commercialized elsewhere. How can that be when U.S. companies spend more than $300 billion annually on R&D?
Every April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day to learn about the role that intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyright) play in encouraging innovation and creativity. This year, we’ll explore how innovation is making our lives healthier, safer, and more comfortable, turning problems into progress.
The initial federal research investment is small. Eighty percent of the companies in the report cited less than $5 million as the amount of federal funding received for their foundational work. For 40 percent of companies, this amount was less than $1 million. The 102 companies highlighted are predominantly small businesses, like most companies in the United States. Sixty-five percent of companies have fewer than 100 employees. Yet, the companies collectively employ 8,900 people.
The government doesn’t need “nongovernment culture” to improve cybersecurity. What it needs is to recruit a workforce with a long-term vision of service and innovators driven not by the prospect of living a life of success but of living a life of meaning. Nowhere is this example more apparent than at NASA.
While well-intentioned and interesting, that sort of narrowly focused news coverage gives the impression that innovation is a phenomenon reserved for tech-centric unicorns whose business models (and profits) may not be obvious to casual observers. In reality, corporate innovation may have its roots in the tech sector, but it is much more broad than that and indeed has far reaching implications that are often lost to investors.
While the United States is still at the top in total investment in research and development -- spending $500 billion in 2015 -- a new Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study released Monday has made a startling finding: A couple of years ago, China quietly surpassed the U.S. in spending on the later stage of R&D that turns discoveries into commercial products.
The news that Tesla’s market value topped that of GM this week means that for the first time in the automobile era, America’s most valuable car maker is not based in Detroit. Instead, as cars become increasingly reliant on cutting-edge software and new energy technology, a Silicon Valley-based luxury electric car maker best exemplifies this convergence of the mechanical and electronic worlds.
Unfortunately, recent data shows that we are losing ground when it comes to the protection of IP and patents - consequently, we are falling behind in the innovation race. While China has long been seen as a nation which does not respect Intellectual Property and where piracy has been rampant, it appears they may have seen the error of their ways and are increasing their patent protections as we have started to undermine ours.
Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, former Department of Defense officials said it is still unclear what Trump's specific strategy is for Pentagon spending. They did say innovation will be in the mix, but the question is how it will compete with other priorities and constituencies.
It’s no secret that Cisco Systems, Samsung and SAP have recently established a presence north of the border, but now it appears that Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are all also considering their options. If this tire-kicking becomes a trend, it will compromise America’s ability to remain a global leader in technology.