China’s economic performance over the past 40 years has been nothing short of miraculous. In 1978, when Deng Xiao-ping became chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP, China’s GDP was about $150 billion in constant US dollars, according to the World Bank. Last year, 40 years after the transformation Deng initiated in China, its GDP in constant US dollars had soared to over $13 trillion dollars, a rate of growth of roughly 10% a year. In recent years, this growth rate has slowed to around 6%, but the overall rise of China’s economy has been simply astonishing.
Innovation has always relied, to some degree, on government support. But a recent study suggests that public funding might be even more influential than it seems. “Nearly a third of US patents rely directly on US government funded research,” says Dennis A. Yao, Lawrence E. Fouraker Professor of Business Administration and co-head of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School.
Over the last 12 years, the U.S. patent system largely has become a compulsory licensing system, and increasingly so. This obviously has ramifications for all patent owners. And during this time period, Congress also passed the America Invents Act, which created what’s known as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which has made it more easy to invalidate patents in the United States. As it turns out, 90% of patents that actually get to a final decision at the PTAB are found to have a mistake.
When news broke of Sputnik’s trip outside our atmosphere, it sent shock waves through the American public and the U.S. government. The Defense Department immediately announced funding for the Explorer -- the vehicle that would become the first American object in space -- and Congress created NASA. But now, the United States is once again facing a potential Sputnik moment as countries like Russia, China and even India rapidly develop capabilities that threaten our use of and our access to space.
One critical area of innovation is in quantum information technologies. Late last month, Google announced it achieved Quantum Supremacy in computing. A team led by John Martinis from Google and the University of California, Santa Barbara, used a 53 qubit quantum computer to solve a mathematical problem in just three minutes that would take the fastest current computer 10,000 years to calculate. This small, profound step is the tip of the spear for a new technology.
Our rate of economic productivity growth, for example, is going down, not up. The rate of productivity growth in the US has been just 1.1%, far below the 3.7% rate of growth we achieved from 1947 to 2007, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is not what exponential technology has promised us. Indeed, I consider it an Exponential Paradox: technological advance is accelerating, while economic productivity growth is declining.
Will Roper, the Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, and Lt. Gen. John “JT” Thompson, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center commander, said the Air Force is committed to working more closely with innovative companies.
Even with the hype surrounding advanced robotics and AI, many industries simply aren’t prepared to adopt these technologies. Across traditional sectors that are extremely data-rich and can benefit significantly from technology investments--such as mining and manufacturing--poor data management practices are all too common. And it’s preventing these companies from capitalizing on technological opportunity.
What would be the most important factor in creating workspaces that excel at building creative solutions? The answer is building a culture where diversity in thoughts, perspectives and way of life is encouraged for employees to venture forward, according to executives at Chicago’s most innovative companies.
Examining the effects that Chinese anticorruption campaigns had on government R&D subsidies, the study estimated that the Chinese governments (national, provincial, and local) paid for a whopping 22.2 percent of business R&D in 2015, with 95 percent of Chinese firms in 6 industries receiving government cash—petrochemicals, electronics, metals and materials, machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, and information technology.