New Innovation Bill

Encouraging innovation is one of the most important things we can do, but it isn’t easy to figure out what would work. But I just saw a very good new proposal that  addresses some key issues.Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Scott Brown (R-MA)  have introduced the Innovate America Act. (I’m all for innovation being a bipartisan issue).

Here’s some of the key parts of the proposed legislation.

  • Encourage greater commercialization of Research and Development by expanding the Basic Research Tax Credit to include all industry-funded university research
  • Allow companies to take a flat 30-percent tax credit for donating equipment to high schools and technical and community colleges
  • Fund 100 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-focused high schools
  • Incentivize colleges and universities to increase graduation rates for STEM students
  • Remove regulatory barriers for top 20 exporting industries
  • Enforce existing international exporting and importing laws

Frankly, Congress should pass this tomorrow. In part, the legislation is designed to build a better bridge between the universities/community colleges/high schools and industry.  That may be one of the most important things we can do. The old industrial labs system has broken down, except in a few rare companies (Corning, anyone?), and the current education-corporate linkage has not turned out to be a good substitute. The Klobuchar-Brown bill would try to help that. And I love the idea of reducing regulations for top exporting industries.

I would make one amendment, though. When we think about top exporting industries, we should focus on value-added in the U.S. rather than gross shipments.  That way we help industries generate more value and jobs in the U.S.


  1. A cornucopia of idiotic ideas. I didn’t think there could be any thing more hilarious- or is it sad? It all turns into farce at some point 😉 – than the dimwits in Congress “reforming” the highly complex medical payments system or high finance, until I read their inane suggestions for something even more speculative like innovation. Ah, if only Mencken were still around to rip these buffoons a new one. At least the world was a bit less complex back then, so the twits in Congress then could at least claim to not be as out to sea as the current batch.

  2. Industry-funded university research suffers from a few problems:

    – The understandings developed from the research flow abroad even faster than understandings developed in industrial labs. Universities are open places and a large fraction of the grad students are foreigners.

    – Universities do not have a strong commercial orientation. How often do universities develop drugs that eventually achieve FDA approval?

    – The overhead charges on research dollars are very high in some universities. What percentage of those dollars gets spent on the labs?

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