Triadic patents, are patents filed jointly with the United States Patent and Trade Office, the European Patent Office, and the Japanese Patent Office, represent inventions with potentially global economic impact. A serious decline in U.S. triadic patents is the latest warning sign of diminished American innovation in advanced industries.
Science and R&D
Debunking the Myth of a STEM Surplus
The Census bureau recently reported that only 26 percent of STEM graduates go into STEM fields. Rather than expressing a surplus of STEM talent, this statistic reflects an overly broad definition of STEM majors, a narrow definition of STEM occupations, and demand for STEM skills in all sectors of the economy. High wages and low unemployment rates show for STEM careers show that the STEM surplus is actually a STEM shortage.
Government R&D and Manufacturing Competitiveness
For the United States to regain its lost manufacturing prowess, it must dramatically increase government investment in research, development and technology transfer. The private sector cannot do this alone, as businesses have been shown to underinvest in new technologies, while foreign governments have invested significantly in their own manufacturing sectors. A focus on industrially relevant applied research can pay major dividends for the U.S. economy and help us compete in the increasingly globally race for innovation advantage.
Understanding the U.S. National Innovation System
The conventional view of innovation is that it is something that just takes place idiosyncratically in “Silicon Valley garages” and R&D laboratories. But in fact, innovation in any nation is best understood as being embedded in a national innovation system (NIS). Just as innovation is more than science and technology, an innovation system is more than those elements directly related to the promotion of science and technology. Rather, it also includes all economic, political and other social institutions affecting innovation (e.g., a nation’s financial system; organization of private firms; the pre-university educational system; labor markets; culture, regulatory policies and institutions, etc.). Indeed, as Christopher Freeman defined it, a national innovation system is “the network of institutions in the public and private sectors whose activities and interactions initiate, import, modify and diffuse new technologies.”
This report identifies the broad elements that make up a national innovation system, including a description of the innovation success triangle, which measures the business environment, regulatory environment, and innovation environment of a nation, and is used to predict the success of an innovation system in promoting technological development and economic growth. It then uses this framework to analyze the U.S. national innovation system and assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual components and whether those components are improving, stable or deteriorating relative to our competitors. Unfortunately, in many areas the U.S. national innovation system falls behind our global competitors, hampering our ability to foster the innovation that is imperative for success in the 21st century economy.
As nations compete to win the global innovation race, the effectiveness of their national innovation systems will be a key factor in deciding the winners and the losers. Thus, the challenge for the United States going forward is whether it can make the needed changes to its innovation system to keep up with the international innovation leaders and remain a key player in the innovation economy. The future health of our nation will depend on the answer.
Winners Only the State Can Pick: Mariana Mazzucato's The Entrepreneurial State
In The Entrepreneurial State, Mazzucato, a Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex, argues that contrary to the popular opinion of many, the state is an innovative, entrepreneurial actor in ways that the private sector cannot be, because only the state possesses the vision, resources and long-term commitment necessary to facilitate large-scale or speculative innovation. Private actors, in contrast, step in only once the state has laid the technological and legal framework to establish a viable market.