Innovation Now

Highlighting Innovation Around The U.S.

TechNet Day 2013

TechNet Day 2013 

TechNet Day is the organization’s annual CEO fly-in to Washington, D.C. in which dozens of TechNet executives come to the nation’s capitol to advocate for policies and initiatives to spur America’s innovation economy.  This year, TechNet CEOs and executives will deliver a clear message on the importance of high-skilled immigration reform to the country’s economic strength and competitiveness.

Specifically, TechNet CEOs and senior executives will hold meetings with Obama administration officials, as well as meetings with Congressional leaders from the U.S. House and Senate.  In addition, TechNet Day will feature an inaugural Politico CEO Roundtable Breakfast on “Ideas on Innovation and Growing the Economy,” featuring key TechNet executives including: John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Weili Dai, co-founder, Marvell Technologies; John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco; Steve Case, Chairman and CEO of Revolution, LLC and former CEO of America Online (AOL); and Charles Scharf, CEO of Visa.  More information here.

In conjunction with TechNet Day, TechNet also unveiled new survey from Zogby Analytics that shows Americans strongly support an open and flexible immigration system to embrace highly skilled workers. Furthermore, the study demonstrates broad support for R&D, corporate tax reform and more federal government focus on science, technology, education and math (STEM) education.

Highlights of the survey:

  • 63% of likely voters believe that the U.S. faces a shortage of high skilled workers and that immigration policy should encourage highly skilled workers to stay in the country.
  • Americans are also worried that we may be losing our global edge in innovation as nearly 43% believe the next major technology or innovation product will come from China while only 30% believe this discovery will come from the United States.
  • An overwhelming majority of Americans (77%) expressed their support for increased spending STEM education, while a majority of those polled (56%) strongly support using visa related fees to fund more STEM education.  Nearly 6 in 10 Americans (58%) do not believe the federal government spends enough on promoting STEM education.
  • R&D Merits Strong Support. Over three quarters (77%) of respondents support (somewhat or strongly) more federal support for corporate R&D programs.
  • 70% believe the U.S. tax code should put American companies on an equal footing with their foreign competitors.  Three in four Americans (74%) also support simplification of corporate tax rates to help businesses stay more competitive in the global economy and a strong majority (62%) agrees that reduced corporate tax rates will lead to more hiring.

For more on the survey, click here.  (Zogby Analytics was commissioned by TechNet to conduct an online survey of 1000 U.S. adults. The survey was conducted from March 4-5, 2013 with a margin of error of +/- 3.2%. )

Presidential Innovation Fellows

Today the White House launched the second round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows (PIF) program. Created in 2012, the PIF program couples talented innovators from the private sector, non-profits, and academia with top innovators in government; the teams work together for 6 to 12 months to rapidly solve challenges of national importance. PIF projects are selected based on their potential to save lives, save taxpayer money, and fuel American job growth.

The program emphasizes agility and collaboration, which are essential to our nation’s success. America has an incredible capacity for problem solving – this program provides an opportunity to develop solutions.

We believe this is an incredible program, and we encourage you to apply and spread the word. Applications are being accepted from February 5th through March 17th, 2013. More information about the program can be found here.

Massachusetts Broadband Summit

TechNet is proud to sponsor the Massachusetts Broadband Summit, Wednesday, November 14, from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

MIT Stata Center
Kirsch Auditorium, Room 32-12
32 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

To register:


How to Reduce America’s Talent Deficit


Each month, when the government publishes the national jobs report, Americans pick over small movements in the headline rate of unemployment. In doing so, they largely miss a crucial aspect of the U.S. jobs crisis.

Many American companies are now creating more jobs for which they can’t find qualified applicants than jobs for which they can. Thus the economy faces a paradox: Too many Americans can’t find jobs, yet too many companies can’t fill open positions. There are too few Americans with the necessary science, technology, engineering and math skills to meet companies’ demand.

At MicrosoftMSFT -3.03% we have more than 6,000 open jobs in the U.S., a 15% increase from a year ago. Some 3,400 of these positions are for engineers, software developers and researchers (a 34% increase from last year).

Other companies face the same problem. As the national unemployment rate this summer exceeded 8% for the third consecutive year, the rate in computer-related occupations was only 3.4%. Even outside of the technology sector, nearly every firm is in some way a software company given the importance of automation. So America’s skills shortage affects businesses in every industry and region.

Read full article here.

The Seeds That Federal Money Can Plant

LUIS VON AHN, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, sold one Internet start-up to Google in 2009, and is now on to another. With the new company, Duolingo, he hopes to tap the millions of people learning languages online to create a crowdsourced engine of translation. “We want to translate the whole Web into every major language,” Mr. von Ahn says.

Ambitious, sure, but Duolingo recently attracted $15 million of venture capital. The investors are betting on Mr. von Ahn, his idea and his growing team of 18 engineers, language experts and Web designers.

Mr. von Ahn, 33, personifies some of the essential ingredients of America’s innovation culture, when it works well. An immigrant from Guatemala, he has intelligence and entrepreneurial energy to spare. And he has received a helping hand from the federal government. Duolingo began as a university research project financed by the National Science Foundation.

That pattern has been repeated countless times over the years. Government support plays a vital role in incubating new ideas that are harvested by the private sector, sometimes many years later, creating companies and jobs. A report published this year by the National Research Council, a government advisory group, looked at eight computing technologies, including digital communications, databases, computer architectures and artificial intelligence, tracing government-financed research to commercialization. It calculated the portion of revenue at 30 well-known corporations that could be traced back to the seed research backed by government agencies. The total was nearly $500 billion a year.

Full NYT Article here. 

September 21, 2012 Link To Post

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“Internet TV: What Must Congress Do About It? Television Regulations Coming To Your Laptop Soon?”

Compare the popular TV show the average Congressional staffer watches on HuluNetFlix or YouTube with the very same show viewed by her parents on their living room television back home. Generally the show is indistinguishable in appearance on TV and on the Internet. Yet, how the show got to the respective screens is quite a different story.

The TV show viewed on the living room TV set almost certainly has found its way onto her parents’ screen by negotiating a series of extremely complex rules and regulations created by Congress over the span of over 75 years. However, the TV show viewed on a laptop by the staffer has sailed through the Internet unburdened by almost every single one of those rules.

Congress created those regulations at different epochs for many well-intentioned goals such as serving the public interest, promoting competition in the video distribution marketplace, helping individuals with disabilities access TV programming, ensuring access to video programming, protecting the privacy of video subscribers, and so on. In a foreshadowing of things to come, Congress is currently “modernizing” for Internet video the 1998Video Privacy Protection Act, which governs the privacy of video tape rentals. And there are many, many more TV regulations that Congress must decide whether to apply to the Internet in the coming months and years.

September 10, 2012 Link To Post

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It’s time to get serious about science

Jim Cooper, a Democrat, represents Tennessee’s Fifth Congressional District in the U.S. House. Alan I. Leshner is chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and executive publisher of the journal Science.

Some policymakers, including certain senators and members of Congress, cannot resist ridiculing any research project with an unusual title. Their press releases are perhaps already waiting in the drawer, with blanks for the name of the latest scientist being attacked. The hottest topics for ridicule involve sex, exotic animals and bugs.

The champion of mocking science was the late William Proxmire, whose Golden Fleece Awards enlivened dull Senate floor proceedings from 1975 until 1988. His monthly awards became a staple of news coverage. He generated good laughs back home by talking about a “wacko” in a lab coat experimenting with something seemingly stupid. Proxmire did not invent the mad-scientist stereotype, but he did much to popularize it.

The United States may now risk falling behind in scientific discoveries as other countries increase their science funding. We need to get serious about science. In fact, maybe it’s time for researchers to fight back, to return a comeback for every punch line.

Toward that end, we are announcing this week the winners of the first Golden Goose Awards, which recognize the often-surprising benefits of science to society. Charles H. Townes, for example, is hailed as a primary architect of laser technology. Early in his career, though, he was reportedly warned not to waste resources on an obscure technique for amplifying radiation waves into an intense, continuous stream. In 1964, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Nikolay Basov and Alexander Prokhorov.

Similarly, research on jellyfish nervous systems by Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie and Roger Y. Tsien unexpectedly led to advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment, increased understanding of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and improved detection of poisons in drinking water. In 2008, the trio received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this initially silly-seeming research. Four other Golden Goose Award winners — the late Jon Weber as well as Eugene White, Rodney White and Della Roy — developed special ceramics based on coral’s microstructure that is now used in bone grafts and prosthetic eyes.

Across society, we don’t have to look far for examples of basic research that paid off. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, then a National Science Foundation fellow, did not intend to invent the Google search engine. Originally, they were intrigued by a mathematical challenge, so they developed an algorithm to rank Web pages. Today, Google is one of the world’s most highly valued brands, employing more than 30,000 people.

It is human nature to chuckle at a study titled “Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig,” yet this research led to a treatment for hearing loss in infants. Similar examples abound. Transformative technologies such as the Internet, fiber optics, the Global Positioning System, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer touch-screens and lithium-ion batteries were all products of federally funded research.

Yes, “the sex life of the screwworm” sounds funny. But a $250,000 study of this pest, which is lethal to livestock, has, over time, saved the U.S. cattle industry more than $20 billion. Remember: The United States itself is the product of serendipity: Columbus’s voyage was government-funded. Remember, too, that basic science, the seed corn of innovation, is primarily supported by the federal government — not industry, which is typically more interested in applied research and development.

While some policymakers continue to mock these kinds of efforts, researchers have remained focused on improving our quality of life. Scientific know-how, the engine of American prosperity, is especially critical amid intense budgetary pressures. Federal investments in R&D have fueled half of the nation’s economic growth since World War II. This is why a bipartisan team of U.S. lawmakers joined a coalition of science, business and education leaders to launch the Golden Goose Awards.

Federal support for basic science is at risk: We are already investing a smaller share of our economy in science as compared with seven other countries, including Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. Since 1999, the United States has increased R&D funding, as a percentage of the economy, by 10 percent. Over the same period, the share of R&D in the economies of Finland, Germany and Israel have grown about twice as fast. In Taiwan, it has grown five times as fast; in South Korea, six times as fast; in China; 10 times. In the United States, meanwhile, additional budget cuts have been proposed to R&D spending for non-defense areas. If budget-control negotiations fail, drastic across-the-board cuts will take effect in January that could decimate entire scientific fields.

Columbus thought he knew where he was going, but he didn’t know what he had found until many years later. He was searching for the Orient, but he discovered something even better: the New World.

Let’s honor our modern-day explorers. We need more of them. They deserve the last laugh. Washington Post

September 6, 2012 Link To Post

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US Slips Down the Ranks of Global Competitiveness

The United States has slipped further down a global ranking of the world’s most competitive economies, according to a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey released on Wednesday. The world’s largest economy, which was placed 5th last year, fell two positions to the 7th spot – marking its fourth year of decline. A lack of macroeconomic stability, the business community’s continued mistrust of the government and concerns over its fiscal health were some of the reasons for the downgrade, according to the annual survey.

“A number of weaknesses are chipping away at its competitiveness…the U.S. fiscal imbalances and continued political deadlock over resolving these challenges,” said Jennifer Blanke, Economist at the Geneva-based WEF.

Political deadlock over reducing the unsustainable federal government budget deficit – projected to hit $1.1 trillion this year – prompted Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating by one notch to AA+ from AAA last August.

A mix of U.S. tax hikes and spending cuts – referred to as the “fiscal cliff” – are set to come into force in January unless lawmakers reach a compromise for avoiding them.

The survey, which has been conducted annually for over three decades, ranks the competitiveness of 144 countries based on 12 key indicators including infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, labor market efficiency and innovation.

“If you look at competitiveness, what we are talking about is productivity. It’s countries that are productive that can support the sorts of rising living standards and high wages that everyone is looking for,” Blanke told CNBC.

Despite declining in the overall ranking, the forum highlighted that the U.S. remains one of the world’s top innovators – supported by an “excellent” university system – and continues to offer vast opportunities because of the sheer size of its domestic economy. Switzerland and Singapore retained their positions as the most competitive economies, coming in 1st and 2nd, respectively.

Read full CNBC article here.

TechNet Member, ChargePoint, Named as a 2013 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum

Every year the World Economic Forum picks a number of up-and-coming technology startups from around the world and dubs themTechnology PioneersPast members of this club include Google, Mozilla, Mint, Etsy, Twitter, Amiando, Playfish, Obopay, CloudFlare, Palantir, Kickstarter and Brightcove.

Today, The World Economic Forum announced 23 new members of the 2013 class of Technology Pioneers, who will be honored at a conference in China in September. This year’s group includes, AlienVault, Anhui LIGOO New Energy Technology, Azuri Technologies, Coulomb Technologies, Enphase Energy, Ingenuity Systems, LanzaTech, Liquid Robotics, Lookout Mobile Security, MC10, Mind Candy, PassivSystems, Practice Fusion, PrimeSense, Promethean Power Systems, RightScale, shopkick, SoundCloud, Tobii Technology, Transphorm, va-Q-tec, Vidyo and Voltea.

According to the organization, Technology Pioneers are chosen on the basis how innovative a company is, the potential impact on society, growth and sustainability, proof of concept, leadership and more.

Since the World Economic Forum launched the program in 2000, there have been 500 selected as Technology Pioneers. Among them, about 75% are still independent and 25% have been acquired by industry leaders.

Public Radio International and WGBH Boston Join Forces

BOSTON, MA, July 26, 2012 — Public Radio International® (PRI) and WGBH Boston, two leading public media organizations, announce that PRI has been acquired by, and will be an affiliated company of, WGBH.  Recognizing the tremendous changes and opportunities occurring in media, PRI and WGBH are responding to the imperative for public media to find new and innovative ways to work more effectively to serve the public.

PRI, the national content producer, network and service provider for public radio, and WGBH, the award-winning public media content producer for radio, TV and the web, will come together to pursue a shared vision for developing and funding station-based and independently-produced content for public media including an editorial diversity from producers nationwide. The two organizations will leverage their combined resources and expertise to create scale and efficiencies to provide public radio audiences with more content choices and engagement opportunities; increase public radio stations’ and producers’ ability to address audience needs and interests in today’s multi-media, cross-platform digital world; and support public media’s creative communities.

As an affiliated company of WGBH, PRI will continue to operate independently as a tax-exempt non-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in Minneapolis, with its distinct mission and nationally recognized board of directors, continuing to directly raise funds for its own programs, projects and operations.  PRI will continue to produce “PRI’s The World®,” “Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen from PRI and WNYC,” and “The Takeaway” (a co-production of PRI and WNYC).  It will continue to serve public radio stations with the largest portfolio of on-going and independent programming in public radio, representing content from 16 producers in the US and Canada.  WGBH will provide administrative operations support to PRI.

Full story here.