Groups Call for National Innovation Focus

Innovation. Experts contend that the dominant role of the U.S. is in jeopardy as other countries accelerate their efforts and Americans lag behind.

Two organizations say a national focus is needed. Here is a quick summary from the State Science & Technology Institute.

The call is for the United States to create a national federal office of innovation to help focus and concentrate innovation across the country.

Following the election, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) announced its policy recommendations for the administration in their weekly news publication as part of their "Winning the Race 2012" series. Among other recommendations to improve the country’s competitiveness, innovation, and productivity, ITIF calls for the creation of a National Innovation Foundation. Similar in scope and organization to the National Science Foundation, the National Innovation Foundation would support companies and other organizations in innovation activities. 

Similarly, OECD in a late November policy paper recommended establishing a national innovation agency, specifically, along with the proposed National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, within the National Institute of Standards and Technology. 

Both ITIF and the OECD note that many other countries with "advanced economies" have an agency that consolidates and coordinates a national innovation policy. Instead, the United States’ innovation policy is spread throughout White House offices and Department of Commerce agencies.

With the approach of the so-called "fiscal cliff" and a focus on creating a leaner government, it is unlikely that a new agency or office is realistic. Instead, it may be necessary to scale back the activities of other departments and agencies.