Priorities 3, 4 and 5

By Mark E. Atkins  |  Posted 2009-03-31 Print this article Print

3. Embrace alternative fuels. U.S.-based companies have filed more than a thousand alternative energy-related patents in the last five years, significantly exceeding their global counterparts. Now it’s time to translate those patented ideas into commercial products. America needs to ensure that all energy solutions are on the table, not just oil. We need to extend the existing tax credits for alternate energy, extend insurance for biofuel feedstocks, clear hurdles for wind farms and pay more attention to solar energy.

4. Provide incentives to innovate. It’s time for Congress to make the tax credit for innovation permanent. It’s an incentive for companies to keep intellectual and creative capital and jobs here in the United States. Investing in R&D funding should be expanded, and companies should re-examine their outsourcing strategies to be sure their choices continue to make sense from both a financial and an intellectual capital perspective.

5. View three as company, not a crowd. According to Forrester Research, a successful continuous innovation agenda “hinges on the empowerment and effective engagement of employees, customers, partners and other societal stakeholders.”

Let’s leverage the brightest minds in academia, the business acumen and global competency of the corporate world, the funding and political will of government, and the input of other influencers to deliver more cutting-edge products and sustain innovation.

Universities are the breeding ground for the innovation economy. For example, Shell is collaborating with universities and Invention Machine to create algae-based biofuel. We need more companies following Shell’s lead, using the right technology and people to deliver cutting-edge, eco-friendly products. In fact, our government should provide additional incentives and grants to foster these relationships, as the governments in Europe do.

As I travel to customer sites, I keep hearing the same message: America needs to keep moving forward, and sustainable innovation is the key. A number of discrete efforts designed to promote an innovation economy are in the works. Let’s build on that momentum and focus on a holistic, consistent and repeatable process for building an innovation economy in America.

Mark E. Atkins is the CEO and chairman of Invention Machine, which drives sustainable innovation across global organizations.

Mark E. Atkins is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.

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