RI Helps Shape National Innovation Agenda

Rhode Island Participates In Shaping National Innovation Agenda

According to a recent report from the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, innovation will be the single most important factor in determining America’s success through the 21st century. The report, “Innovate America: Thriving in a World of Challenge and Change,” was conducted by the Council’s National Innovation Initiative (NII) and is based on the work of more than 400 business, academic and government leaders conducted over the past 15 months.   Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation’s Director of Business Development Saul Kaplan was among those tapped to participate in the initiative.

Released at the NII Summit on December 15 in Washington, D.C., the report examines how innovation must drive U.S. competitiveness, prosperity, and security in the 21st century.  According to NII leaders, strategies for improving America’s innovation agenda must target three key areas: talent, investment, and infrastructure.

“Innovation is the key to economic growth and vitality nationally and here in Rhode Island.  We are the smaller, more manageable place for collaborators to get their innovative ideas off the whiteboard and onto the ground­‑-an approach in Rhode Island that we call Innovation @ Scale,” says Kaplan. “The NII report redefines innovation as the intersection between invention and insight.  It is not an innovation until a value is delivered and real-world problems are solved.”

Kaplan served on the 21st Century Innovation Working Group chaired by IBM Senior Vice President Nick Donofrio.  The working group focused on discovering the attributes of innovation success, identifying priority issues, and developing a framework to guide national innovation policy.   The group’s findings were incorporated into the Innovate America report.

According to the report, an innovation economy that drives economic growth and job creation will be fueled by new ideas that originate from curiosity-based research and then move to application and commercial development. Central to this process, say, report authors, is America’s ability to improve processes that turn new ideas into better products, services and ultimately, solutions to societal problems.

“Innovation has been the hallmark of the American economy long before the Industrial Revolution, but today innovation belongs to no single country. Today we can take nothing for granted,” said G. Wayne Clough, President, Georgia Institute of Technology and co-chair of the National Innovation Initiative. “Delivering on the agenda set out in this report will have a substantial and immediate impact today while laying the groundwork for future generations to prosper.”

Article reprinted with the permission of Melissa L Withers, Manager, Marketing Development Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation