Posted by: Reena Jana on December 01, 2008
Today in Washington D.C., Fred Block, a University of California, Davis, sociology professor presented a white paper calling for President-Elect Obama to appoint a cabinet-level Department of Innovation within the next two years.
The presentation took place at a day-long event, “How Will the Obama Administration and New Congress Support Innovation and an Economic Crisis?” sponsored by U.C. Davis, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Information Technology and Innovation Institute.
Block and his co-author, Matthew Keller, argue that creating a Dept. of Innovation would “raise the profile of current federal innovation efforts and improve their coordination. This new Department would also accelerate the deployment of new technologies that meet such critical national needs as energy independence and reducing greenhouse gases.” Block and Keller suggest that a Dept. of Innovation, with a Secretary-level head, would help ensure that the Chief Technology Officer post that Obama has spoken about would be more than a symbolic position.
Block and Keller also have specific suggestions, such as “Direct $3-$5 billion of the stimulus package at non-defense R&D and funnel other monies at energy efficient activities such as retrofitting of government buildings and vacant housing with an emphasis on solar panels and use of green materials; and for the development of pilot programs for expanding broadband access and to begin to upgrade the electricity grid.” They refer to so-called “stim-novation,” or spending that stimulates the economy while also encouraging the development of new technologies, materials, and medical instruments (and other products).
You may have been reading the recent blog posts by our resident innovation guru Bruce Nussbaum, asking President-Elect Barack Obama to name an "innovation dream team," as well as BusinessWeek.com columnist Jeneanne Rae's latest essay, "What Obama Needs to Know About Innovation." It seems that each week, there are more very public voices pushing the President-Elect to pay more attention to the I-word in a way that's more than rhetoric.
What do you think: does Obama get "innovation"? Does he get "stim-novation"? And would a cabinet-level Dept. of Innovation be a good thing? Is a CTO enough?
What comes next? The BusinessWeek Innovation and Design team of Michael Arndt and Helen Walters chronicle new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.