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The United States: Leaders In Technology Innovations

2012 words - 8 pages

From the assembly line to the computer processor and Internet, technology innovations that change the world were developed in the United States. Built on a system that encouraged entrepreneurial leadership by rewarding risk, the U.S. economy led the world while its closest competitors insulated themselves from the global economy. Still, the competitiveness of the U.S. is not simply the result of a culture, but a commitment of the public and private sector to invest in new ideas and scientific innovations. Yet, there is a growing concern that America is losing its place as the world’s technology leader. A recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found that the United States ranked sixth among 40 countries and regions, based on 16 indicators of innovation and competitiveness, including venture capital investment, scientific researchers, spending on research and educational achievement. While the United State’s policy has maintained a stable path, the world has changed. For decades most of the world’s economies were a closed system, but, due in part to advances the United State’s advancements in technology, the world has become, in the words of Thomas Friedman, “flatter.” But the question remains, does the emergence of new economies really threaten the competitiveness of the United States? While there are a number of competitiveness factors that, when taken in isolation, would not necessarily constitute a crisis, their interrelationship makes a more compelling argument that the trend is unsustainable.
In order to understand what will make the U.S. more competitive moving forward, it is important to recognize the policy initiatives that led to the current success. Modern focus on technology advancement began during the Second World War when the U.S. government began to fully understand the importance of research and development and its impact on defense systems. After the war the government developed a close relationship with major centers of research, including universities and medical centers, and new legislation formed relationships, particularly in Universities, that set a tone for the next half century of federal support for research and higher education. In the 1960s, the government represented nearly 67% of total R&D funding; however, the percentage has slowly declined.
Another factor that led to the United State’s leadership in technology was the passage of a series of legislative initiatives that led up to the Internet boom of the 1990s. Between 1980 and 1993, Congress approved nine significant pieces of legislation to advance the business of technology. The policy was important because, it often created partnerships with private entities. Beginning in 1980, Congress approved the Stevenson-Wydler Technology Innovation Act, which required federal laboratories to facilitate the transfer of federally owned technology to local governments and the private sector. In the last half of 1980, legislation was...

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