U.S. Innovation and Entrepreneurship

ACS Position Statement

Innovation is built upon investments and advances in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Developments in these fields ultimately lead to new marketable products and enabling technologies, new jobs, and economic expansion. A trained workforce with strong math and science skills is critical to this process.

The Council on Competitiveness report, Innovate America, highlights three requirements for a healthy economy: 1) a talented workforce, 2) investment in research and development (R&D) and long-term innovation strategies, and 3) infrastructure support and maintenance. A renewed commitment to science and technology support by the federal government is crucial to sustainable innovation.

Innovation doesn’t happen overnight; it is fostered by a sustained commitment to every step of the R&D process. The United States’ heretofore unmatched ability and capacity to innovate—to create new products, processes, markets, and industries that change the world—is built on

  • creative ideas that flow from a strong, diverse science and technology enterprise,
  • a well-trained and determined workforce that can nurture and develop those ideas,
  • an environment that encourages the development of novel applications from research ideas,
  • a robust technology transfer and commercialization capability for new innovations, and
  • a scientific culture that includes strong professional societies, encourages cross-sector and international collaboration, provides early independence to investigators, and allows mobility between academic and industrial institutions.

We are at a critical point in history. If the United States is to remain a recognized economic and innovation leader in the rapidly changing global economy, swift and decisive action must be taken to ensure predictable and sustained support for R&D, STEM education, and policies that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship. A sound, strong, and forward-looking innovation strategy is crucial to ensure long-term economic growth.

The National Academies report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, predicted many current problems, including the challenge of U.S. leadership in global science and technology, the movement of companies abroad, and the loss of human capital that would result from a lack of stable and significant investment in innovation, research, and education. The American Chemical Society supports this report’s action plan.

Future innovation requires a substantial, sustained investment in STEM education, as recently recommended by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.1 This includes a commitment to long-term R&D as well as programs to assure that research leads to new products and jobs in the United States. While we face many immediate issues and must make tough decisions, it is critical to remember that long-term investment in innovation is the path to a brighter economic future.

The American Chemical Society asks policymakers to develop a strategy that allows our nation to remain a global leader in innovation and competitiveness through the following strategies:

Development and Support of a World-Class Workforce

  • Updating education, training, workforce and immigration policies to ensure that the United States has the highly educated and innovative workforce necessary to grow the economy as well as support American enterprises and jobs.

    * Strengthening effective STEM education programs at all levels:
    K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education.

    * Recruiting and retaining highly skilled STEM teachers, improving the content knowledge skills of the K-12 STEM teacher workforce, and improving the resources available in STEM classrooms.

    * Encouraging more of the best and brightest students, including those from under-represented or disadvantaged groups, to study and work in STEM fields.

    * Enabling lifelong inquiry-based science education for everyone, in both formal and informal settings, to improve the scientific literacy of all U.S. citizens.

    * Enhancing training opportunities, retirement security, and professional mobility for STEM professionals.

    * Enhancing the ability of all scientists and engineers to bring specific technical talents to the U.S. workforce.

Predictable and Sustained Commitments to Research and Technology Development

  • Strengthening and sustaining federal investments for all phases of R&D, including R&D infrastructure, to develop the foundations for innovation and to address immediate and future economic and national security needs.
  • Expanding the university R&D infrastructure and interactions with industry in order to increase technology transfer and commercialization of breakthroughs.
  • Encouraging open interactions among scientists, engineers, and students from all nations.
  • Promoting a strong, scientific publishing enterprise that enables open exchange of scientific ideas with appropriate access, peer review, management, searchability, and information archiving.

Development of a Sustainable Infrastructure for Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  • Minimizing the impact of a shifting, global, job environment by reducing economic and regulatory barriers to the development of new technologies and the manufacture of related products in the United States.

    * Fostering U.S. corporate tax and trade policies that will make U.S. firms competitive with our international rivals.

    * Providing incentives to encourage capital investments and entrepreneurship activities from domestic and international citizens.

    * Fostering improvements in the U.S. and international systems for patent protection and voluntary consensus standards.

    * Ensuring an appropriate mix of voluntary and regulatory measures to reach our goals.

    * Fostering the development and adoption of economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable products and processes.

    * Promoting institutions and guidelines to ensure that government makes appropriate and transparent use of scientific information in making policy decisions.

Science and technology make the United States strong by creating millions of high-skill, high-wage jobs and enhancing the American quality of life. The strategies listed above will help ensure that these benefits continue into the future and that our nation will remain the world’s recognized economic and innovation leader.

1 President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, February 2012.