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Innovate, baby, innovate!

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Oh, yes he can…get elected. We can not only credit this to his extraordinary political talent and his managerial capabilities in putting this campaign machine together and keep it humming along nicely. But we can also thank George W. and Dicky Vader for having made this possible, for instilling the desire for change into so many of their dear subjects. Sometimes you have to go through a valley of tears to get to the stars, as the Romans knew already: “per aspera ad astra”.

But how is this going to affect innovation? Quite significantly, I have grounds to believe. For once, the slogan “Drill, Baby, Drill” will be replaced by “Innovate, Baby, Innovate” and Joe the Plumber will have to enroll for a life-long learning programme. President Obama’s innovation agenda is designed to
help Closing the Innovation Gap. That’s a call to action and title of a widely debated new book written by a former chief technology officer of Cisco Systems.

Obama supports a number of innovative measures regarding energy, including increased investment in renewable energy and federal funds for nuclear power. For instance, Obama supports making R&D tax credits permanent and expanding tax credits for hybrid automobiles, as well as implementing a 10-year, $150 billion investment program into energy efficient technologies. Obama also wants to make math and science education a national priority and increase resources for lifelong learning initiatives. Read Obama’s innovation agenda on his campaign site.

To support innovation is part of Obama’s change agenda and should bring the US away from a feeling of doom and gloom and toward the positive promises of scientific and technological innovation. As was pointed out in an articlein the New York times yesterday: “Creativity doesn’t care about economic downturns. In the middle of the 1970s, when we were having a big economic downturn, both Apple and Microsoft were founded. Creative people don’t care about the time or the season or the state of the economy; they just go out and do their thing.”

It will be interesting to see how Obama will now go about implementing his innovation plan and whether there is any funds left to do so. If he will invest all his steamrolling energy and stamina into the project, then Europe, where 27 governments tend to use most of their energy to fight and horsetrade about every comma and every word in every single policy document, will have to prepare for a fresh gust of U.S. competitiveness, from which we may all benefit, as innovation is rarely a zero-sum game, particularly if it is accompanied by foreign policy multilateralism and a new commitment to fighting climate change

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