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Report: Innovation is Key to Prosperity
Jun 18, 2009
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Americans believe that innovation leadership is important, but they are concerned about American innovation in a more competitive international environment, according to a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Forty-three percent said remaining the innovation leaders of the world is most important to our future success. This compares to military leadership (14%), economy size (23%), and having the dollar continue to be the world’s de facto currency (11%).

The economic survey, conducted by Zogby International, found that Americans are concerned about the impact of innovation on our debt (92%), educational system (73%), and policymakers grasp of the importance of innovation (only 17%think U.S. policymakers have the best grasp compared to other countries). The survey was released as CEA announced a new national grassroots "Innovation Movement" to focus U.S. policies on advancing innovation with the goal of ensuring continued U.S. global economic leadership.

While Americans clearly see innovation as vital, they are unsure if the U.S. is keeping pace with increased competition from new global economic powers, and they are foremost concerned that the rising national debt will impair the ability of the U.S. to remain an economic leader:

* Only one in five Americans (21%) believe the U.S. is creating the best environment for innovation. Nearly half chose Japan or China.
* More than one in three Americans (36%) believe that the U.S. will lose its innovative advantage and take a backseat to China.
* Seventy-three percent of Americans do not believe that the U.S. educational system is best equipped to develop innovative leaders.
* Ninety-two percent of Americans said that the U.S. national debt, currently at $11 trillion, will affect our nation’s long-term ability to remain an economic leader. The debt is projected to reach $20 trillion by 2015.

Americans are also concerned about the role unions may play in hindering innovation. According to the survey, 57% of Americans believe the union movement has hindered innovation, and 60 percent said innovation was less likely to occur if a company was unionized.

The survey also provided insight into why innovation has been such an important part of the American culture: Thirty-five percent of Americans said the U.S. economy has been so innovative over the last century because innovators can reap rewards. Fifteen percent said it was due to having the most innovative workforce, while 13% said it was due to a culture that allows failure. Seventy-three percent of Americans say it’s the entrepreneurs who create and build companies who are driving innovation. Large companies that invest in research and development garnered 15%, while 5% believe it’s the policymakers who make spending and tax decisions who drive innovation.

Americans point to the U.S. remaining an innovation leader, more than anything else, as most important to the country’s future success. Forty-three percent said "remaining an innovation leader" was most important, while 23% said the “largest economy” and 14% said, "remaining the military leader."

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