The Need for A National Innovation Framework
According to the recent Global Innovation Index study completed by the Boston Consulting Group, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Manufacturing Institute, innovation leadership has shifted to more nimble emerging and developed economies, where their governments are investing heavily in science and technology and innovative approaches to increase their respective market shares of the global knowledge economy. Foreign counterparts have successfully plucked best-practice strategies and approaches in supporting entrepreneurship and early-stage business development. Combined with the primary competitive advantage of cheaper labor costs, these efforts are now paying big dividends for these societies.
Analytical chemistry in China, clinical trials in India, biomedical engineering in Singapore, and a number of back-office and other outsourced industries have gained strong footing abroad and have effectively cut into America’s competitive share in high technology. The study ranked the United States eighth in innovation leadership behind Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Iceland, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Finland. The study evaluated both innovation inputs, such as fiscal and education policies, and outputs such as patents, technology transfer from basic university research, research and development, and business performance (see Table 1).
The Global Innovation Index also called for a bold national innovation strategy to encompass their recommendations, but they did not propose a central operating model for widespread implementation. What our nation needs is a National Innovation Framework—an operating model that offers less complexity, more accountability, and more cooperation among businesses, technology organizations, innovators, investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and university leaders. We use the term “operating model” because the provision of any service—and we consider innovation policy implementation a service that involves the interaction of multiple actors from both the public and private sectors alongside appropriate government involvement—requires implementation beyond the control of any one governmental agency.
The better designed and anticipatory this operating model is, the better it will be in delivering and implementing innovation policy that boosts our country’s economic competitiveness and job creation in a timely fashion and at the most efficient cost to taxpayers. Today’s leading high-tech and innovative businesses and industries that are the quickest to identify, carve, and sustain their business models are the most successful. They may not be the fastest to discover something innovative, but they are the fastest to piece together all the necessary components to become exceedingly profitable.