Airline Science

Innovation Fact of the Week: Increased Airline Industry Competition Boosted Researcher Collaboration by 50 Percent Between 1991 and 2012

(Ed Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

The saying “two minds are better than one” is more than just a cliché when it comes scientific research. In fact, it is widely understood in academia that collaborative research projects produce better outcomes than solo efforts. That is why competition in the airline industry—which drives down ticket prices—also has a beneficial side effect for innovation: It is easier for colleagues far afield to get together to work face-to-face.

Economists Christian Catalini, Christian Fons-Rosen, and Patrick Gaule studied the impact of increased airline competition on research collaboration between 1991 and 2012 by matching the introduction of new airline routes with the effect on ticket prices and research activity at universities in the vicinity of the new routes. They estimate that because of cheaper airline tickets, collaborative projects increased by 36 percent in chemistry, 26 percent in physics, 49 percent in engineering, and 85 percent in biology. On average, cheaper airline tickets boosted collaboration by 50 percent over the past two decades.


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National Innovation

Innovation Fact of the Week: When the Federal Government Committed $500M to a Manufacturing Innovation Initiative, Industry and Academia Threw in $1B More

(Ed Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

Understanding that certain challenges in advanced manufacturing cannot be solved by industry, academia, or government alone, the Obama administration set up the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation in 2012. At the beginning of 2016, the network was comprised of nine innovation institutes, which are structured as public-private partnerships. Each institute specializes in a specific field of advanced manufacturing (for example: 3D printing, fiber-reinforced polymers, next-generation electronic devices) and brings together experts from academia, government, and private industry to share best practices, bridge gaps in the knowledge base, and develop innovative solutions.

The president’s fiscal 2016 budget request calls for an additional six institutes to be funded, bringing the total to 15 by the end of the year. Industry and academia response has already proven to be positive, as evidenced in August 2015 when it was announced that the seventh innovation institute would specialize in flexible hybrid electronics. While the Department of Defense and Department of Energy committed to invest $500 million in this

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Vietnam’s Proposed Law on Information Network Security Threatens to Imperil Its ICT Economy

Over the past decade, the information and communications technology (ICT) sector has made significant contributions to Vietnam’s economic growth. However, a proposed new Law on Information Network Security (LONIS)—which would apply onerous licensing and permitting requirements upon millions of ICT products containing cryptographic capabilities—threatens to short-circuit the robust levels of both ICT imports and exports that have underpinned the rapid growth of Vietnam’s ICT sector. Not only that, but LONIS potentially breaches commitments made by Vietnam in its World Trade Organization (WTO) accession report concerning imports of ICT products containing encryption as well as elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement protecting trade in encrypted products.

ICT production and consumption have been key pillars in Vietnam’s stellar economic performance, with Vietnamese GDP growing, on average, more than 6 percent annually over the past 15 years. For example, the average annual growth rate of Vietnam’s ICT sector reached 55 percent from 2008 to 2013, while from 2004 to 2014, the percentage of ICT goods exports as a share of Vietnam’s total goods exports increased nine-fold, from 2.7 percent to 27 percent, making ICT goods the country’s largest export sector in

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Innovation Fact of the Week: Indian Farmers Who Planted Flood-tolerant Biotech Rice Increased Yields by 13.5% From 2012 to 2013

(Ed Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

Although rice requires wet conditions to grow, it cannot survive being submerged for too long. In the tropics, the unpredictability of flooding poses a massive risk. Because rice farmers plant seeds without knowing how much flooding there will be in the season ahead, they have little control over the impact of floods on their final harvest.

Global warming will only increase the unpredictability and scale of floods in the tropics. Fortunately, advances in biotechnology allow scientists to engineer flood-tolerant varieties of rice. The Swarna-Sub1 variant has seen great success in India, giving rice farmers a means to mitigate flood risk and damage. In 2012 and 2013, economists surveyed a sample of 1,200 Indian farmers and found those who adopted this flood-tolerant variety increased their yields by about 840 pounds per hectare, or 13.5 percent.

Read last week’s Innovation Fact of the Week

Photo Credit: m-louis via Flickr

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rob test44

Digital Trade on the Hill: Hearing on Expanding U.S. Digital Trade and Eliminating Digital Trade Barriers

Digital trade issues continue to grow in importance to the U.S. economy as people and businesses find new and innovative ways to use data and technology to deliver more goods and services via the Internet. However, the growth in entrepreneurship and innovation so vastly enabled by digital technologies is increasingly threatened by a growing range of digital trade barriers. On July 13, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade held an important hearing on the growing significance of digital trade to the U.S. economy, the rise of these digital trade barriers, and the ways in which U.S. trade policy, including through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), can help remove existing—and prevent future—barriers. ITIF Founder and President Robert Atkinson testified, alongside representatives from IBM, the Internet Association, PayPal, and Fenugreen (a tech startup). This post captures a few of the key takeaways.

Digital trade benefits a large segment of the U.S. economy and its workforce. Digital trade and data flows often go unrecognized (as they are often hard to see) for the important role they play in helping U.S. companies and workers, whether from firms big or

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