Race to Innovate
Competitiveness, Manufacturing, and Trade Policy Analysis
“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
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
By most accounts, patients in the United States and across the globe are in the midst of a new era of medical discovery, one in which new treatments and cures for costly diseases will become increasingly commonplace.
As ITIF noted in a recent report, our nation has benefited from public policies that support innovation and discovery, including strong intellectual property (IP) protections, limits on price controls for innovative medicines, data protections for biologic drugs, and strong government research and development expenditures on health care.
Unfortunately, these core fundamentals are being set aside by proponents of expanding “march-in” rights to address concerns about the price of drugs.
“March-in” rights were included as a privilege for the government under the Bayh-Dole Act, which was enacted with bipartisan support in 1980 to address intellectual property created (at least in part) from government-funded research. The law has played a significant role in driving impactful medical discovery and life-sciences innovation by allowing academic and other research institutions to patent inventions created by federally funded research and exclusively license them to industry for further development and commercialization. As The Economist has written about Bayh-Dole, it
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
When Russia joined the World Trade Organization in 2012, observers hoped it signaled the start of a process that would bring Russia closer into the rules-based trading system that the WTO oversees and the market-based economic principles that underpin it. But four years on, it has become increasingly clear this has not happened. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned away from the WTO to pursue mercantilist and protectionist policies as part of misguided and costly industrial development strategies.
Two clear examples from the past year were a compulsory data localization policy that forces digital service providers to store data on Russian citizens inside the country’s borders and a discriminatory industrial policy that favored domestic pharmaceutical and medical device producers over imports. These two policies earned Russia the dubious distinction of being one of the few countries with more than one listing on the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s list of the top 10 worst innovation mercantilist policies of 2015.
Russia’s new Data Localization Law acts as a barrier to cross-border data flows as it prevents many data-intensive firms—whether in social media, financial, medical, or other service sectors—from
As the global Internet economy evolves and becomes more interconnected, cross-border policy tensions are rising, as is the need to resolve these tensions and conflicts in ways that continue to spur growth and innovation. To that end, I was honored to be a member of the Atlantic Council’s Task Force on Advancing a Transatlantic Digital Agenda. However, I was one of five members who, at the end of the day, could not have my name listed as endorsing the Task Force report.
First, it’s important to recognize the hard work of the commission members and staff and the significant parts of the report that will make a real contribution to better resolving transatlantic digital tensions. The report comes up with a number of creative and useful proposals, such as creating a new US-EU Digital Council, increasing cooperation with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic, lifting foreign investment caps in the telecom sector, and others. And its broad based support for transatlantic data flows and multi-stakeholderism for Internet governance is needed and welcome.
But there were other proposals and language I cannot support. The report’s discussion of net neutrality
University Startups Conference Showcases Latest ITIF Tech Transfer and Commercialization Policy Proposals
ITIF Vice President for Global Innovation Policy Stephen Ezell spoke at the National Council of Entrepreneurial Tech Transfer’s University Startups and Global 1,000 Conference in Washington, DC, on April 5, 2016. The following excerpts his remarks.
With innovation being the lifeblood of the American economy, I’d like to offer several policy recommendations that could bolster America’s broader innovation, tech transfer, and commercialization ecosystem.
First, as a society, we’re simply not investing enough in scientific research. We’re not investing as much in research and development (R&D) compared to our own history. In fact, if our own federal government invested as much in scientific research as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) that we did in 1983, we’d invest at least $60 billion more a year in R&D than we do now. So closer to $200 billion a year than $138 billion a year. Moreover, we’re not investing as much as a share of R&D compared to competitor nations. Preliminary data for the forthcoming 2016 OECD Science, Technology, and Industry Scoreboard shows the United States falling to 10th of the 39 OECD countries in national R&D intensity (national R&D investment in
There has long been a de facto consensus among U.S. policymakers that America’s system for discovering and developing new drugs is the world’s best, and that there are two reasons for that success: First, the federal government provides robust funding for scientific research, mostly through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Second, the U.S. system encourages vigorous innovation in the private sector by providing strong intellectual property protections and a drug reimbursement system that allow companies to earn enough to reinvest in risky research and development.
But this consensus is now under intense pressure from critics across the political spectrum, especially on the populist left, as left-leaning think tanks and presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) question the legitimacy of both the public-private policy framework and the results it produces. The critics’ various indictments revolve around a number of misconceptions about how the U.S. system functions. Here are five of the most common myths:
1. The U.S. private sector does a poor job of discovering and developing new drugs.
The reality is that America’s biopharmaceutical sector is by far the world’s most innovative and productive. The industry today has
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
The American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis writes about ITIF’s Contributors and Detractors: Ranking Countries’ Impact on Global Innovation report in a new AEIdeas blogpost. We certainly appreciate James bringing attention to the report and calling it out as a “must read.” Yet his post does raise a degree of skepticism about ITIF’s report, questioning in particular the United States’ overall tenth place ranking and asking “If the U.S. is really less innovative than Belgium?”
It’s vital to remember that the intent of ITIF’s report is not to rank the world’s most innovative countries or to rank countries on their aggregate innovation output as measured by indicators such as numbers of new start-ups, numbers of digital economy “unicorns” valued at over $1 billion, or new technologies created—and, indeed, the report acknowledges that the United States leads the world in levels of absolute innovation output. Rather, the report’s objective is to assess which countries’ economic, innovation, and trade policies—on a per-capita basis, crucially—are doing the most to contribute to and the least to detract from global innovation. In other words, to ascertain which countries are producing the most positive global innovation