Got innovation? Partnership is the key

Governments should emphasize natural strengths, seek to partner with other countries, to create 'innovation networks' that will be economic drivers.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

Bill Gates says the US is falling behind in innovation. So what country is the best innovator?

According to Forrester Research, the US is still among the tops, but other countries include Sweden, Finland, Ireland, and Switzerland, the San Francisco Chronicle's Technology Chronicles blog notes.

International cooperation is key, the report says. No country can be the leader in all fields of innovation and research. So partnering is crucial.

The problem is, politicians haven't fully grasped that picture, Forrester says. Many politicians tend to confuse innovation with invention. The former takes an idea all the way to market, while the latter is oftentimes more academic.

The consequence is that large sums of taxpayer money are being wasted. Developed nations spend around $1,270 per capita each year on research and development. That cash, Forrester feels, could be spent in much better and more efficient ways.

The report recommends that countries specialize in key strengths, and partner with others.

For instance, Switzerland excels at academic and financial achievement, while it lags in "inventor strategy," the report says. Countries like the U.S. and Finland are good inventors, but not so good in attracting foreign research and development to come to their shores. Ireland, for instance, is great at bringing in foreign R&D. And so forth, the report lays out plenty of strengths and weaknesses across the international innovation scene.

The report says the US and Europe could drive innovation forward by creating such "innovation networks."

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