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Renewing America

Ideas and initiatives for rebuilding American economic strength.

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Showing posts for "Innovation"

Labor’s Digital Displacement

by Michael Spence
3D printer sculpture Hanover Germany A 3D printer produces a sculpture at the CeBit computer fair in Hanover, Germany (Fabrizio Bensch/Courtesy Reuters).

Digital technologies are once again transforming global value chains and, with them, the structure of the global economy. What do businesses, citizens, and policymakers need to know as they scramble to keep up? Read more »

Driverless Cars

by Steven J. Markovich
A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters). A monitor in the back seat displays sensor readings and other information in a driverless car at the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University (Kevin Bartram/Courtesy Reuters).

Driverless cars promise great benefits such as fewer accidents, elimination of drunk driving, better utilization of existing highways, and letting commuters work or relax while en route. The technology has developed rapidly over the past decade, aided by research grants from multiple governments and competitions funded by the U.S. military. While several automakers have announced plans to bring cars with limited autonomous capabilities to the market by 2020, there is still a need for a clear legal framework that ensures self-driving vehicles are safe while setting appropriate limits for manufacturer’s liability. A new backgrounder, Driverless Cars, explores this emerging technology, the challenges that remain, and its benefits, which have been estimated at over a trillion dollars annually for the U.S. economy.

We Don’t Know If Our Patent System is Working

by Rebecca Strauss
A woman tries the silver colored version of the new iPhone 5S after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters). A woman tries the silver colored version of the new iPhone 5S after Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013 (Stephen Lam/Courtesy Reuters).

“Innovation” is a hot buzzword in Washington. In a city gripped by partisanship, being pro-innovation is something everyone can agree on. One of the most direct ways the federal government participates in the innovation economy is through the legal protection of tangible innovations themselves, or patents. Yet incredibly, no one has a good grasp of whether the U.S. patent system is doing what it was intended to do—promote innovation. Read more »

Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness

by Steven J. Markovich
With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters). With the Earth in the background, the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is seen as it is grappled by the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm (Photo provided by NASA/Courtesy Reuters).

The Space Race of the 1960s spurred groundbreaking investments in research and education, inspiring a generation of Americans to enter the fields of science and engineering. These investments not only propelled the United States to preeminence in space exploration, but also planted the seeds for future innovation and economic competitiveness in many industries. A new backgrounder, Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness, explores the advancements produced by the U.S. space program, and discusses the challenges and opportunities that the program faces today.

Why Manufacturing Really Matters: Gary Pisano and Willy Shih on Innovation

by Edward Alden
An employee works on the production of high-power semiconductors at a manufacturing plant of Swiss engineering group ABB on May 30, 2012 (Michael Buholzer/Courtesy Reuters). An employee works on the production of high-power semiconductors at a manufacturing plant of Swiss engineering group ABB on May 30, 2012 (Michael Buholzer/Courtesy Reuters).

If there is any consensus in the debate over how to revitalize the American economy, it is over innovation. Innovation, we can all readily concur, is the only way for an advanced economy like the United States – which cannot grow by copying and imitating others – to continue to boost productivity and raise living standards. But understanding why useful innovations occur, and what if anything governments can do to foster them, quickly degenerates into a clash between free market absolutists and industrial policy aficionados. Read more »

U.S. Patents and Innovation

by Renewing America Staff
A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai on September 3, 2012 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters). A man talks on a mobile phone in front of an Apple logo outside an Apple store in downtown Shanghai on September 3, 2012 (Aly Song/Courtesy Reuters).

This week saw more high profile patents in the news. Apple alone saw the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issue initial rejections of its patents on “pinch-to-zoom” and other iPhone features while it fended off a claim from Google’s Motorola Mobility, while in Europe smartphone rival Samsung faces antitrust scrutiny patent lawsuits against Apple. Read more »

Promoting Innovation Through R&D

by Steven J. Markovich
A scientist uses a microscope to check cultures for signs of the H1N1 swine flu virus and other respiratory diseases at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters). A scientist uses a microscope to check cultures for signs of the H1N1 swine flu virus and other respiratory diseases at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters).

Experts agree that research and development (R&D) is the backbone of a globally competitive, knowledge-driven economy. R&D investment helps develop new products and services that drive growth, create jobs, and improve national welfare. For decades the U.S. government and private sector have spent more than any other nation on R&D. But that advantage is eroding as other nations increase public and private R&D investments at a faster rate, causing the global U.S. share of this critical investment to decline. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: The Israeli R&D Model

by Jonathan Masters
A museum guide imitates a humanoid robot at the Robotic World exhibition in Haifa (Courtesy Reuters). A museum guide imitates a humanoid robot at the Robotic World exhibition in Haifa (Courtesy Reuters).

The innovations that will drive a knowledge-based economy and employ the next generation of high-skilled workers require a national commitment to research and development, and no nation has made this a higher priority than Israel. The country of 8 million invests more money in R&D per GDP than any other. And while the United States still leads the world in total R&D spending, it ranks ninth when economies are weighted. Read more »

Policy Initiative Spotlight: Building A New Manufacturing Base, Layer By Layer

by Steven J. Markovich
Three-dimensional printer "The Replicator" by MakerBot (MakerBot Industries LLC Handout/Courtesy Reuters). Three-dimensional printer "The Replicator" by MakerBot (MakerBot Industries LLC Handout/Courtesy Reuters).

In the beginning of the twentieth century, “manufacturing” brought to mind burly men shaping metal with forges or stamping presses; in the twenty-first century, that mental image may become workers typing at a computer terminal as a laser shapes a product tiny layer by tiny layer.  Additive manufacturing—also known as 3D printing—is expected to revolutionize production, and a new public-private partnership aims to accelerate change. Read more »

American Decline or Economic Renewal?

by Renewing America Staff
A teacher reads to students at an elementary school in Walla Walla, Washington (Dick_Morgan/Flickr). A teacher reads to students at an elementary school in Walla Walla, Washington (Dick_Morgan/Flickr).

On October 15, the Renewing America initiative hosted the BBC’s The World Tonight radio program at CFR in Washington for a special event, “American Decline or Economic Renewal?,” which was broadcast as part of The World Tonight’s program, “Rebuilding America.” Panel members discussed issues highlighted by CFR’s Renewing America initiative including education, innovation, and the state of U.S. infrastructure, as well as the ability of the U.S. political system to address these challenges. Read more »