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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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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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Don’t Blame ICT for Manufacturing Offshoring

During the 2000s, globalization took millions of jobs from the United States. Some have been quick to associate this job loss with the technology that ostensibly made it possible, chiefly the adoption of ICT that allowed for global connectivity. So, would the United States have been better off if it had simply never invested in ICT in the first place?

There are those who would love to somehow put the technology introduced by the ICT revolution back in the box. But a new study shows that doing so would have detrimental impact on the economy. Yes, in some cases ICT investment introduced the tools which allowed companies to outsource jobs. But, as new paper, Does ICT Investment Spur or Hamper Offshoring?, finds, the same ICT investment enabled productivity gains that kept companies at home.

Of course, it is difficult empirically to determine whether ICT investments increase the likeliness of offshoring, as causality is difficult to determine. To address this problem, authors Luigi Benfratello, Tiziano Razzolini, and Alessandro Sembenelli examined small and medium-sized Italian manufacturing firms with varying access to local broadband facilities, a random variable that was used

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What Creates Jobs? Welcoming STEM Workers

Politicians talk frequently about job creation. But what actually creates jobs is a subject of intense debate. Do we need more public spending? Less? Fewer regulations? Smarter regulations? The answer usually depends on the audience and ignores the deeper questions. What kind of jobs are we creating? Do other jobs get destroyed? Would high-skill immigrants take a job from an American or create a new one for him or herself?

A recent report, Technology Works: High-Tech Employment and Wages in the United States, from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a trade organization from an area that knows a thing or two about facilitating economic growth, sheds light on these questions by highlighting a tried and true method for creating jobs: attracting and employing technology workers. When a city, community, or region employs a technology worker, this engenders a multiplier effect on employment in the local economy. In fact, the Bay Area Council’s study finds that every one job in the high-tech sector—defined as those most closely related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields—leads directly to 4.3 jobs in local goods and services industries across all

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IT and the Environment: Improving Together

A new paper by two Italian economists finds links between information technology (IT) and environmentally-friendly innovation in firms. The paper, Information Technology, Environmental Innovations and Complementary Strategies, uses EU firm-level data to examine whether firms innovating in the IT space were also innovating with regard to their environmental practices. The researchers find a significant correlation between IT and environment-related innovation. They also find some evidence that IT helps drive environmental innovation in several ways.

This result fits well with the ideas put forth in ITIF’s 2008 report Digital Quality of Life, that information technologies are not only helping environmental regulators and activists do their job better, they are also helping businesses do a better job of making their impact more environmentally friendly.

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FedTalks 2013: Highlights and Observations

The FedTalks 2013 conference, held June 12 in Washington, brought together a motley crew of government officials, tech company executives, military contractors and civic IT experts to discuss “how technology and people can change government and our communities.” The speakers, ranging from Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to famed impostor Frank Abagnale (more on him below) came from similarly broad backgrounds. Here is a quick rundown on some highlights and observations from the conference:

FedTalks, Innovators Listen

Challenge.gov, a federally-supported platform for civic innovation competitions, came up several times, including in U.S. CIO Steve VanRoekel’s keynote address on increasing government efficiency. The site—itself a public-private partnership with technology competition company ChallengePost—encapsulates a theme that pervaded FedTalks 2013 and that’s particularly relevant in the data science sector: as long as government agencies lack the expertise to design and implement data collection mechanisms and disciplined analytics themselves, they will need to get help from external sources. Acting GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini made the excellent point that in addition to the value created by the winning entries on Challenge.gov and similar platforms, other contestants often generate economic value that dwarfs the prize money being

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Getting SMARTer About Wielding ICT to Cut Emissions

The Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI), an information and communication technology (ICT) industry partnership, just released a new report that details how expanded use of ICT could cut global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 16.5% by 2020 and offset $1.9 trillion in gross energy and fuel costs. The report, SMARTer2020, was put together by The Boston Consulting Group and also finds ICT’s GHG abatement potential to be the equivalent to more than seven times the ICT sector’s emissions over the same time period. Clearly, ICT can play an important role in saving energy and mitigating climate change.

A GeSI press release summarizes SMARTer2020’s findings:

The new research study identifies GHG abatement potential from ICT-enabled solutions ranging across six sectors of the economy: power, transportation, manufacturing, consumer and service, agriculture, and buildings. Emission reductions come from virtualization initiatives such as cloud computing and video conferencing, but also through efficiency gains such as optimization of variable-speed motors in manufacturing, smart livestock management to reduce methane emissions, and 32 other ICT-enabled solutions identified in the study. Some ICT-driven solutions such as smart electricity grids reap benefits at the national level, whilst others

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President Bush participates in VTC with FEMA Disaster Officials

Telecommute and Help Save the World

Information and communication technology (ICT) has been an incredible boon to society, as laid out in detail in the ITIF report Digital Quality of Life: Understanding the Personal & Societal Benefits of the Information Technology Revolution. Indeed, ICT has greatly approved access to information, improved consumer choice, convenience, and safety, and facilitated communication, among many other benefits. As a new report by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) notes, however, ICT also has the potential to significantly reduce energy use and thus mitigate carbon dioxide emissions. Specifically, the GeSI report, Measuring the Energy Reduction Impact of Selected Broadband-Enabled Activities Within Households, looks at eight online consumer activities – telecommuting, using the Internet as a primary news source, online banking, e-commerce, downloading video and music, e-education, digital photography and e-mail – and concludes that their greater adoption in the six countries featured in the study could achieve net energy savings equivalent to 2 percent of their total energy consumption. As such, GeSI’s work helps illustrate the importance and desirability of the continued global integration of ICT.

The new GeSI study comes to its net energy savings estimates by considering ICT-enabled

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Thanks for Today Alan Turing

You are reading this on a tablet, a handheld device or perhaps simply a desktop on which you may later stream a movie, download a book, email photos to a friend on the other side of the world, or book a flight to see that friend. If asked who you would thank for these technological marvels, who’s name would pop into your head? Steve Jobs? Maybe Robert Noyce, inventor of the integrated circuit. How about the scientists at the Defense Advanced Research Products Agency (DARPA) who laid the foundation for what became the Internet? Or perhaps, if you saw Google’s doodle today, you’d know to give credit to Alan Turing.

Turing was born on this date exactly 100 years ago. An eccentric genius, Turing, perhaps more than anyone in this century, can be credited for conceiving and creating the basis for the modern computing ecosystem; the algorithm, artificial intelligence, artificial language, the machine itself which bore his name. If no Turing, then no Microsoft, no Google, no Facebook.  “This was not just the first man to walk over the landscape, but this was the man who put the landscape

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Swiss National Park

Greenpeace Misses the Forest for the Trees

This week, Greenpeace came out with a report that takes several IT companies – Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft – to task for relying on so-called dirty energy to power their data centers. Even disregarding the fact that the report, How Clean is Your Cloud?, inexplicably puts nuclear power on par with coal power as an unclean energy source, Greenpeace’s analysis ironically misses the forest for the trees. While it is indeed unfortunate that some IT companies and businesses in general may derive their energy from undesirable sources, the underlying issue of real importance is that clean energy is too expensive.

ITIF said as much last year when commenting on the release of a similar Greenpeace study:

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