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Is the United States asleep at the wheel?

Posted by: Helen Walters on February 25, 2009

Is America asleep? It is according to Rob Atkinson, president of the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a non-partisan thinktank looking to promote innovation both nationally and internationally. Atkinson is the co-author of a new report, Benchmarking EU and U.S. Innovation and Competitiveness which finds that when it comes to improvement in international competitiveness and innovation capacity over the past decade, the United States has made the *least* progress of 40 nations/regions.

Atkinson also criticized the U.S.’s cavalier attitude towards innovation, comparing the nation to “an aging sports dynasty that has won the Super Bowl for many years but blithely ignores the rising performance of younger teams.” Ouch. Yesterday, I spoke to him about the report’s findings — and for his thoughts on whether this condition is terminal or redeemable. (Turns out, there is hope.) Here, listen to our fairly extensive conversation in the latest installment of our Innovation of the Week podcast series.

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Reader Comments


March 2, 2009 10:14 AM

We are to some degree asleep but there are many that aren't. Our universities are some of the key think tanks producing the next generation of economy and life changing products. People like Dr. Wong from Rice University have developed innovative new technologies such as the Quantum Dot Tetrapods that can be mass produced economically. These are the source of the next SOLAR POWER revolution. Companies like Solterra Renewable Technologies, Inc. ( HGUE )are starting to produce the new solar technology that is set to replace silicon wafer-based solar cells. This new technology is cheaper to produce and more energy efficient. The technology is called Quantum Dots and will be used in the Flexible Solar Power Industry.
Should we have done more? We should have but Detriot who should have been leading the research on alternative power sources didn't. They got greedy and lazy and didn't lead the way. Doesn't it seem funny now they are producing for the assembly line electric cars that will be available next year? Where were they before this?


March 17, 2009 07:51 PM

We’re living in a world where, as the report states, “many nations no longer compete principally on low costs, but instead compete on the basis of innovation and knowledge as
they seek to create, grow and attract high value-added firms.” The amount of effort other governments are putting into innovation for this very reason is phenomenal. The United States has fallen into a state of complacency over the last 5-10 years, and we need to start taking some bold steps if we don’t want to fall any further behind

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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.

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