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Every day—while building roads, giving inoculations, sitting at computer screens—individuals are quietly thinking: “I know a better way to do this.” Or: “I could create something new that would make this easier for everyone.”
And then they go back to work, never transforming their thoughts into action. Why does this happen, and how can we unleash these hidden ideas?
The Obama Administration is now coming up on the end of the first 100 days, so it is a good time to revisit its innovation agenda to determine which directions it has taken. Although it is too early to judge any outcomes, we see positive signs that the role of innovation and entrepreneurship is at the core of this Administration’s approach to the economy.
Momentum for a comprehensive patent reform has been slowly building in Congress. Last week, the House Judiciary Committee began examining a patent bill introduced in March by Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and ranking member Lamar Smith (R-TX). In the Senate, Leahy (D-VT) recently cut a deal to soften damages language in last year’s failed Senate bill. Most are eager to see reform. The rules, protections, and the adjudication process surrounding IP requires constant adjustments to keep up with challenges of the digital revolution. However, as new policy is considered, I hope policy makers contemplate the effects of patent legislation on our future job creators.
There has been a lot written in the past few days on how to revive the Venture Capital (VC) industry in the U.S. However, we need to keep the bigger picture in mind and avoid making the mistake of equating new firm creation, job creation and economic recovery to the health of the VC industry. VC investments are only one component of the capital market for new firms. Policymakers’ efforts should focus on the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem, rather than just on the VC industry.
President Obama has been bringing together leaders with diverse views for discussions on how to achieve the goals of lowering health care costs, expanding coverage and improving quality. As health care reform moves forward, policymakers should also evaluate the effects of health care reform, particular the health insurance system, on entrepreneurship.
Universities, particularly research universities, are an important component of an innovation economy. Universities around the world have long been instrumental in developing much of the innovation that benefits our lives. A key question, therefore, is how well universities are prepared to support the transition to a more entrepreneurial economy. The various successful experiences from around the world show that shaping entrepreneurial universities requires commitment to institutional innovation.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) or the Waxman-Markey energy bill attempts to reduce carbon emissions from American cars, power plants and factories by 83 percent over the next 40 years. This pending legislation, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last week in a 33-25 vote, embraces several positive concepts. Most promising is its emphasis on increased funding and infrastructure for clean energy innovation and its rapid commercialization. It is worth exploring these provisions in the bill, as well its flaws.
Cost-effective physical infrastructures provide the essential platforms for the activities of any healthy economy. Modern infrastructure should be increasingly “smart,” incorporating next-generation technologies to manage scarce resources, such as clean air and water, used in infrastructure systems. As our leaders invest stimulus funds devoted to infrastructure projects, it is important that they not overlook the role of entrepreneurs in building infrastructure that supports creative, risk-taking behavior.
A new study has confirmed it. A close look at our entrepreneurial history reveals that entrepreneurship is an engine for job creation and economic growth even during difficult economic times. This new study by the Kauffman Foundation suggests that policies that support entrepreneurship also support recovery. It also reveals that job creation from startup companies tends to be less volatile and sensitive to downturns when compared to the overall economy.
In the midst of much speculation surrounding the upcoming decisions on how to best address the poor performance of venture capital (VC) in the U.S., a new study on VC opportunities and returns offers myth-busting findings. In “Right-Sizing the U.S. Venture Capital Industry,” Kauffman Foundation Senior Fellow Paul Kedrosky draws interesting conclusions on the size the industry needs to be in order to function as an economic force. In particular, he argues that the sector must shrink if VC is to provide competitive returns and secure its own future as a credible asset class.
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