A while back, I blogged about one of America’s enduring strengths: the ability of its people to invent and innovate which, as you look back on the span of U.S. history, is the single greatest attribute that has distinguished us, as a nation, from every other nation on earth. Given the current state of our economy, I thought it’s appropriate, at this time, to re-post that article to remind all of us, me included, that as long as we continue to prize, encourage and pursue the exercise of that attribute, American’s greatest days are still ahead of us …
Invention & Innovation — A U.S. Competitive Advantage in a Changing World
Current economic crisis aside, as we are all well aware, the world economy is changing fundamentally at a dizzying pace. Countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China (the “BRIC” Block that we hear so much about these days) are growing their economies at double digit rates, while the U.S. and the various state economies are experiencing sluggish or, at best, mild growth.
The American way of doing business has been successfully duplicated at this point in each of these accelerated economies; our traditional competitive advantages (i.e., technology superiority, educated workforce, economies of scale, manufacturing efficiency, etc.) are disappearing as foreign economic fortunes improve and educational and employment opportunities increase abroad. The U.S. economy, for the first time in its history, finds itself under siege by a tidal wave of competition that shows no signs of abating.
In light of these developments, as we look to our economic future here in this country, it’s essential that we uncover, or rediscover, ways in which to inject vitality and genuine competitive advantage into an economy that has seen better times. An important avenue for gaining this vitality and advantage is through innovation: and the solo inventor is an essential part of this process. Without him, the process, otherwise controlled exclusively by large multinationals with no local allegiance and with a narrow focus on next quarter’s bottom line, withers and dies. The result is the flight of both capital and prosperity abroad.
In the past, American inventors
have shown that they know no limits. Any age, both genders, and all races throughout our history have contributed to the creative genius that is the American inventing process. The technology envisioned by American inventors has improved our standard of living and linked us across both physical and cultural divides.
Additionally, innovation and the inventing process, along with the inventor himself, have been the key ingredient in driving the growth of the American economy over the past two hundred years. It’s time to revisit this driver and to encourage and support those innovative people who are dedicated to the inventing process. It holds the potential for revitalizing our economy.
Here in Colorado, we rank among the top 10 states in patents awarded per capita. In 2005, for instance, residents in the state received 1,972 patents. By The Inventors’ Roundtable’s own count, there are over a thousand active inventors in the State of Colorado..
Inventors innovate, and in the process help create renewed prosperity and economic vitality. They are the cornerstone of any genuinely-enlighted, locally-focused, economic development effort. Accordingly, it is important that the inventor survive and, not only survive, but thrive. In order for that to happen the inventor needs the support of the existing business community. That support will return back dividends many times over.
The bottom line is that inventors become business owners and employers, create wealth, use the services of other providers and give back to the community. They are both drivers and users of the economy; they both create and consume. They are a vital component of the U.S. competitive arsenal and it’s time for us as a society to once again recognize the importance of the inventor.