Starting anew in 2005
Many of the recommendations offered by the State-Federal Technology Task Force in 1995-1996 and USIP in the late 1990s are relevant today. And they should be revisited under the Obama administration with the major difference being the role of innovation not just on technology. Indeed, after six years of neglect under the last administration, federal and state leaders on both sides of the political spectrum began to develop their own strategic approaches to innovation policies. Some of those efforts included:
- The National Innovation Act of 2005. The NIA, sponsored by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) established a President’s Council on Innovation to develop a comprehensive agenda and coordinate federal effort to support innovation.9
- The National Competitiveness Investment Act of 2006. The NCIA, sponsored by Sens. Ensign and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), established a President’s Council on Innovation to develop a comprehensive agenda and coordinate federal effort to support innovation.
- The America Competes Act of 2007. The ACA, the work of a bipartisan group of lawmakers, built on the NCIA to increase research investment, strengthen science & technology educational opportunities, and develop an innovation infrastructure. Many of the recommendations from ACA have gone unimplemented.
- The National Governor’s Association initiative of 2007. This effort created the Innovation America Partnership, which established a public-private partnership to coordinate innovation efforts with outlined roles for state, federal, and private jurisdiction. Governor Janet Napolitano of Arizona—now Homeland Security Secretary—led this effort. Gov. Napolitano also created the Innovation America Foundation.
In addition, last year two important new efforts to create a nationwide innovation policy body were launched: one in the Senate and one from a leading nonprofit technology policy group. In Congress, the National Innovation and Job Creation Act of 2008 was introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY), which sought to establish a National Innovation Council to improve the coordination of innovation activities. And later that year the widely discussed proposal to create a National Innovation Foundation—which would coordinate technology and innovation policy under one roof and then pool and leverage investments—was proposed by Robert Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.
Many different elements of these programs are a part of our proposed National Innovation Framework, but we would argue that they have not been adequately networked together to achieve the sustainable collective outcomes the United States needs today to create an integrated national innovation strategy. Our goal is to establish that integrated operating model so that the United States can construct a fully networked and optimized infrastructure for the greater coordination and success of overall U.S. innovation strategy—an integrated network that leverages the best that the federal government and state governments, universities and nonprofit groups, and the private sector can bring to the table.
We believe it is important for existing state and federal agencies to retain their current funding and implementation roles so that they can maintain their mission-oriented goals and not lose time sparking a new, innovation-led economic recovery. But we recognize that better coordination is absolutely imperative.
That’s why our National Innovation Advisor and federal innovation partnership program would convene to evaluate effectiveness, return on investment, and redundancy in programming in order to reduce any unnecessary overhead and maximize the amounts of funding invested in outcome-driven research and commercialization. Further, this new coordinating effort will identify gaps that exist in federal technology innovation programs and respond better to the current economic environment. This effort will enable our National Innovation Seed Fund to fill a major early-stage funding gap for innovative entrepreneurs in the United States. We now turn to this National Innovation Framework.