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National Innovation Initiative

National Innovation Initiative

This video was recorded at MIT World Series: The Emerging Technologies Conference at MIT (2004). It's no secret that the U.S. is dangerously close to losing its edge in the global marketplace. What can be done to hold on to a competitive advantage? The National Innovation Initiative, a group of 200 drawn from the public and private sector, has been mustering in the past year to answer this critical question. G. Wayne Clough, one of the Initiative's leaders, invokes an "urgency to the task," because "if we lose our edge, we will lose jobs and benefits." The NII hopes to generate an "actionable agenda, " which would include identifying critically emerging technologies; making the public sector more innovative and economic policy supportive; and gearing students, from kindergarten on up, to participate in a 21st century workforce. Nicholas Donofrio points out that other nations are already sharply focused on innovation, from Europe to Asia, and that this international challenge puts the U.S. at a crossroads. We must "spark innovation and growth to generate prosperity," he says. And he's not speaking of simply creating new products: "Invention doesn't guarantee value….We need the fusion of new developments and approaches to solve real problems." These problems include the spiraling costs of healthcare and our dependence on oil. Addressing these issues will mean stemming the decline of engineering and science training in American students; ending government support of "antiquated industries that stifle development;" and tailoring labor, trade and tax policies to encourage innovators around the world to live and work here. We "need to make innovation the heart of the national agenda," says Donofrio, but an "enormous amount of political will must grow" to accomplish this.

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