Time For a National Innovation Policy. McCain And Obama Need To Get Real.

I’m hoping the Presidential candidates begin to have a serious conversation about innovation because the primaries have been singularly devoid of any serious discussion on this critical issue. China, Britain, India, Singapore, Sweden, and many other countries have national innovation policies that serve them well and the US needs one too. This has to go beyond federal government support of technology, math and science.

Here are some elements of what a national innovation might look like. And take a look at the ideas on the ITIF (Information Technology and Innovation Foundation) site.

1- Support the work being done on codifying design methodology and design strategy at the IIT Institute of Design, the Stanford D-School, Carnegie Mellon, The Rotman School of Management and other institutions.

2- Build out the nascent fields of service innovation and service science that IBM, Peer Insight, and other private companies and consultancies are creating.

3- Support a new academic speciality in innovation economics. Traditional economics neglects critical elements of innovation—intangibles such as human capital and the productivity gains of networking. Traditional categories of capital and labor no longer play critical roles in competitiveness or growth in the US. Brain-power, culture and organization are far more important.

4- Build out a very high-speed broad network. This is an obvious utility that needs government funding.

5- Reshape immigration and visa policy. Perhaps the single most important act the federal government can do is re-open the doors (closed in part since 9/11) of America to the best and brightest students and immigrants.

6- Promote new forms of k-12 education, especially in inner-city schools. They could include integrating gaming into curriculum development, peer-to-peer learning, and team teaching.

Let’s make this a start. If you were creating a National Innovation Policy, what would you include?

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