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All posts by Adams Nager

StephVsLeBron

What Steph Curry and LeBron James Can Teach Us About Innovation

“You have to see this kid from Davidson,” said my friends who had brought me to a small college gym in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 2008, as I watched a midseason college basketball game of little importance. And sure enough, just a few minutes in, this painfully skinny sophomore comes flying off a screen several feet behind the three-point line, still dogged by a defender, and then somehow sets his feet and still moving laterally lets an improbable shot fly. Only it wasn’t improbable. Swish. My jaw dropped. A huge basketball fan, I had never seen anything like it. I had just seen Stephen Curry for the first time.

A few months later, as Curry led his underdog Davidson team deep into the NCAA tournament, newly-minted NBA MVP LeBron James watched Curry play. “I saw a kid who didn’t care how big someone was, how fast someone else was, how strong someone else was,” said James afterwards.

James is a dominant player in the NBA precisely because he is, indeed, bigger, faster, and stronger than people he is playing against. However, LeBron James and Steph Curry today sit atop the

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greatwall

How Do We Know NNMI is Working? Because China is Copying It

China’s new manufacturing policy road map, unveiled in 2015 and called Made in China 2025, includes numerous policy initiatives designed to create an advantage for China in 10 key advanced-technology industries. Several parts of the program imitate the German Industrie 4.0 model, aggressively integrating Internet of Things technology into manufacturing and targeting specific advanced industries in which they hope to succeed. In addition, Made in China 2025 contains provisions for creating 40 Manufacturing Innovation Centers by 2025.

The proposed centers look a lot like a similar program in the United States. America’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) program seeks to create 45 institutes spread across the country serving both as regional hubs and nodes of a network of institutes designed to support innovation, investment, and cooperation in manufacturing in advanced industries. Created with government funds and industry matches, the NNMI program coordinates workforce initiatives and research efforts, helps vertical supply chains adopt technology standards, and strengthens networks of collaboration and innovation.

Though both systems have roots in the German Fraunhofer innovation network, the Chinese Manufacturing Innovation Centers certainly seem like a direct response to the U.S. manufacturing innovation

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contact_lenses

What Can Contact Lens Prices Teach About Telehealth Regulation?

Rising health-care costs present a large burden to future Americans. Telehealth and e-commerce can keep rising health-care costs in check and increase the quality of care and the patient experience.

Transitioning towards telehealth and more health-related e-commerce presents a regulatory challenge. There are health services that should, of course, be provided in person, while others can be provided remotely with limited risk to the patient. One clear area is in the contact lens market. Once an optometrist issues a prescription, consumers can easily judge for themselves where to buy contact lenses. There are no obvious health concerns or risks for individuals from purchasing contacts from a licensed seller rather than from an optometrist. Brands are relatively static, and consumers have constant but predictable demand for the number of contacts they buy. Furthermore, contacts are easy to ship. In fact, it’s hard to think of a health-related industry more primed to turn e-commerce into cost savings for consumers than the contact industry.

However, online sales of contact lenses in the United States lag behind those of several other countries. Online sales represent 18 percent of U.S. sales, but 25 percent

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Trump.Manichean

How the Black and White Debate on Trade Hurts the United States

Nowhere is today’s highly polarized political climate more visible than in the debate on trade, which has been dominated by two polar opposite viewpoints. The first sees trade as a white knight capable of fixing all our woes, no matter the circumstances, and the second sees it as an evil tyrant that strips people of their wealth. Championed by supply-side economists and fearmongering protectionists, respectively, these rigid articles of faith have crowded out more rational and nuanced analyses. This is unfortunate, because both extremes are wrong, albeit in different ways, and the focus on absolutes makes it almost impossible to seriously discuss or address loss of American manufacturing strength.

Consider, for example, the claims of commentators such as Scott Lincicome and Michael Hicks, who echo the unabashedly pro-free-trade logic of conservative economists like Milton Friedman when they argue that all of our job losses have been lost because of productivity. Hicks writes, “Had we kept 2000-levels of productivity and applied them to 2010-levels of production, we would have required 20.9 million manufacturing workers. Instead, we employed only 12.1 million.”

This assertion relies on a rigid, supply-side economic model that

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shipping

Worried About Foreign H-1B Hirers? Award More Visas!

The H-1B visa, a temporary visa to hire high-skilled foreign workers for jobs in the United States for which American workers are not available, is intended to be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Starting tomorrow, April 1, applications for this visa will be accepted and considered for fiscal year 2017. However, April 1 isn’t so much as a start date, but a starting gun for the furious race by U.S. employers to secure skilled labor. If this year is anything like the last few (and all indications suggest it will), between April 1 and April 6 over 230,000 applications will be filed for 85,000 visas, prompting U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) to use a lottery system to award visas. This process, which was designed to award visas over the course of the year, will receive three times as many applications as it has visas available—all in under a week.

Many of these applications will be filed by information technology (IT) management firms based outside the United States. In the H-1B lottery, a handful of firms based in India, such as Infosys, Tata, Wipro, and HCL (dubbed “outsourcing firms”

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pennies

Spotify and Artist Compensation: What’s the Fair Price For Streaming a Song?

Though I only tuned into the Grammys a few weeks ago to catch a glimpse of Hamilton, I couldn’t help but catch the not-so-subtle references to the influence of streaming services like Spotify on the music industry. It culminated in an exasperated plea to the TV audience from Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, “Isn’t a song worth more than a penny?”—a reference to the estimated price Spotify pays artists per play of a song on the service.

Spotify maintains that it does offer fair compensation to artists for their intellectual property and serves as a bridge to give would-be illegal downloaders a legal alternative to piracy. Spotify co-founder Daniel Ek writes that Spotify is “working day and night to recover money for artists and the music business that piracy was stealing away.”

Portnow’s question is a good one to ask though, and researchers are trying to find out. A recent study by Luis Aguiar and Joel Waldfogel, “Streaming Reaches Flood Stage: Does Spotify Stimulate or Depress Music Sales?,” found that while Spotify pays a price that fully compensates

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DofITitleImageCropped

The Demography of Innovation in the United States: Who Innovates and How Do They Succeed?

Behind every technological innovation is an individual or a team of individuals responsible for the hard scientific or engineering work. And behind each of them is an education and a set of experiences that impart the requisite knowledge, expertise, and opportunity. These scientists and engineers drive technological progress by creating innovative new products and services that raise incomes and improve quality of life for everyone.

But who are these individuals? How old are they? Were they born in the United States or abroad? Are they male or female? What are their races and ethnicities? What kind of education do they have?

To find out, ITIF surveyed more than 900 people who have made meaningful, marketable contributions to technology-intensive industries as award-winning innovators and international patent applicants. We learned that the demographics of U.S. innovation are different from the demographics of the country as a whole, and also from the demographics of college-educated Americans—even those with Ph.Ds. in science or engineering.

The study finds that immigrants comprise a large and vital component of U.S. innovation, with more than one-third of U.S. innovators (35.5 percent) born outside the United States. Alarmingly, women

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SpinningJenny

Innovation Fact of the Week: Over Past 140 Years, Tech Created More Jobs Than It Destroyed

(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.)

Looking at job records in the United Kingdom dating back to 1871, researchers as Deloitte have concluded that new technology continually creates more jobs than it destroys. As new technologies are implemented, historical data shows, savings on consumer goods have increased people’s spending power, freeing them to purchase a larger and more diverse basket of goods and services. This demand creates new jobs in expanding industries.

While technology tends to shift jobs between industries, the net effect is that employment goes up. Moreover, the jobs created tend to be jobs in caring, creative, technology, and business sectors, while jobs destroyed are more likely to have been dangerous, dull, and reliant on muscle power. For example, from 1992 to 2014, the number of farmers, company secretaries, metal workers, and typists are all down by more than 50 percent, but the number of nurses has increased by 900 percent. Technology, the report concludes, is a “job-creating machine,” and though up to 35 percent of U.K.

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CD

Innovation Fact of the Week: Commercial Value of Illegally Installed PC Software Totaled Nearly $63B Globally in 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.)

The global market for PC software is huge, but 43 percent of all PC programs that individuals and businesses installed in 2013 were not properly licensed, according to the BSA Global Software Survey. The commercial value of those illegal installations was $62.7 billion that year, up from $47.8 billion in 2007 when the illegal rate was 38 percent.

The United States has the world’s lowest rate of unlicensed software use (18 percent in 2013), but it is such a large market that the commercial value of those illegal installations is the world’s highest at $9.7 billion. In China, by contrast, 77 percent of all PC software installations were illegal in 2013, with a commercial value of $8.9 billion, the world’s second-highest total.

By region, the average rate of unlicensed software use was 59 percent or higher in Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region. That compared to 19 percent in North America and 29 percent

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DataExclusivityImage

Innovation Fact of the Week: US Leads World in Period of Data Exclusivity For Biologic Medicine Innovators

(Editor’s Note: ITIF features an “Innovation Fact of the Week” in each edition of its weekly email newsletter and on Innovation Files.)

In addition to awarding patents to creators of novel biologic medicines, countries also mandate varying periods of intellectual property protection for the clinical test data on the drugs. This “data exclusivity,” as it is commonly known, helps ensure that creators of biologic medicines have sole rights for a certain period to all of the underlying IP necessary to make and market the drugs. Once the patent on the original compound expires, other manufacturers are free to produce similar drugs—and they are free to generate their own clinical trial data in the process—but, until the period of data exclusivity expires, they cannot use the original patent holder’s clinical trial data to prove the safety and efficacy of their new “biosimilar.”

This additional period of data exclusivity is important because it makes the economics of drug development work. It gives the innovator more time to market the drug and recoup the costs of developing it, which today can approach $3 billion for innovative biologics. The United States offers 12 full

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