Accelerating Innovation with Leadership
As the U.S. presidential candidates lay out competing visions for the country, I have been thinking about a topic they have not yet discussed in detail: what political leadership can do to accelerate innovation. Innovation is the reason our lives have improved over the last century. From electricity and cars to medicine and planes, innovation has made the world better. Today, we are far more productive because of the IT revolution. The most successful economies are driven by innovative industries that evolve to meet the needs of a changing world. From the advances that put a computer on every desk to the discoveries that led to lifesaving vaccines, major innovations are the result of both government investments in basic research and the private-sector creativity and investments that turn them into transformative products.
I’ve heard some people argue that life-changing innovations come exclusively from the private sector. But innovation starts with government support for the research labs and universities working on new insights that entrepreneurs can turn into companies that change the world. The public sector’s investments unlock the private sector’s ingenuity.
I was lucky enough to be a student when computers came along in the 1960s. At first they were very expensive, so it was hard to get access to them. But the twin miracles of the microchip revolution and the internet—both made possible by U.S. government research—completely changed that. It’s no wonder that today most of the leading hardware and software companies are based in the U.S.
Accelerating innovation requires both political leadership and private sector leadership. As U.S. voters decide which candidates they want to elect to fill national, state, and local offices, and as many countries around the world undergo similar political transitions, I think we should consider what kind of leaders can drive the innovations we need.
The best leaders have the ability to do both the urgent things that demand attention today and at the same time lay the groundwork for innovation that will pay dividends for decades.
As a country and around the world, we confront a wide array of urgent issues that our leaders must address—from terrorism to job creation to migration. Our next president will be part of a new group of global leaders who will wrestle with these urgent problems. Those leaders can either prioritize alleviating poverty, making everyone healthier, and accelerating economic growth—or they can let progress stall. The key to prioritizing progress is support for innovation.
When we innovate, we create millions of jobs, we build the companies that lead the world, we are healthier, and we make our lives more productive. And these benefits transcend borders, powering improvements in lives around the world. Our global culture of innovation has been most successful at those moments when science, technology, and great leadership come together to create miracles that improve modern life. I believe we are in one of those moments.
One of the most indelible examples of a world leader unleashing innovation from both public and private sectors came in 1961 when President John F. Kennedy spoke to the U.S. Congress and challenged the country to put a man on the moon within the decade. That speech came at a time of cultural and political turmoil, when national and economic security dominated the headlines. President Kennedy believed looking to the skies would inspire the country to dream big and accomplish huge things.
That speech didn’t just launch humankind on a successful journey to the moon. It also inspired America to build a satellite network that changed the way we communicate across the globe and produced new forms of weather mapping which made farmers far more productive. In the face of fear, President Kennedy successfully summoned our country to harness American ingenuity and advance human progress.
It’s important to remember what made the moonshot the moonshot—that is, what transforms political rhetoric into game-changing breakthroughs. A moonshot challenge requires a clear, measurable objective that captures the imagination of the nation and fundamentally changes how we view what’s possible. And it requires marshaling the resources and intellect of both the public and private sectors. When we do that, we chart a course for a future that is safer, healthier, and stronger.
Because we are at a pivotal moment when the conditions are ripe for transformative innovations, there are many important things this new group of national leaders—including whoever is elected in the U.S. in November—can accomplish over the next decade. There are four objectives I think we should prioritize:
Provide everyone on earth with affordable energy without contributing to climate change.
Develop a vaccine for HIV and a cure for neurodegenerative diseases.
Protect the world from future health epidemics, which might be more infectious than Ebola and more deadly than Zika.
Give every student and teacher new tools so all students get a world-class education...
Questions 1-10: Write no more than three words AND/OR a number for each question.
1. ____________________ contribute to the success stories of world’s most developed countries.
2. The author does not believe that the ____________________ is the only driver for technological inventions and advances.
3. The microchip revolution and the internet made ____________________ computers accessible by the public.
4. As ____________________ are taking place worldwide, people should determine the types of leadership that will accelerate innovations.
5. Providing aid to proliferate innovations and new ideas is a major way in which ____________________ can be done.
6. As advantages of innovations ____________________, they can create a more positive picture of lives on a global scale.
7. When President Kennedy expressed his dream of taking men to the moon, ____________________ insecurity was spreading in the US.
8. The dream of President Kennedy also inspired the US to make progress in developing a satellite network and unprecedented methods of ____________________
9. The aim of a moonshot challenge is to attract people’s ____________________ and modify how they view possibilities.
10. The author hopes that progress in energy provision worldwide would not increase the problem of ____________________
Have a proper go before look at the keys:
1. Innovative industries (The most successful economies are driven by innovative industries that evolve to meet the needs of a changing world)
2. Private sector (... life-changing innovations come exclusively from the private sector. But innovation starts with government support...)
3. Expensive (At first they were very expensive, so it was hard to get access to them. But the twin miracles of the microchip revolution and the internet ...)
4. Political transitions (... as many countries around the world undergo similar political transitions, I think we should consider what kind of leaders can drive the innovations...)
5. Prioritizing progress (The key to prioritizing progress is support for innovation)
6. Transcend borders (And these benefits transcend borders, powering improvements in lives around the world)
7. Cultural and political (That speech came at a time of cultural and political turmoil ...)
8. Weather mapping (... to build a satellite network that changed the way we communicate across the globe and produced new forms of weather mapping...)
9. Imagination (... a clear, measurable objective that captures the imagination of the nation and fundamentally changes how we view what’s possible...)
10. Climate change (Provide everyone on earth with affordable energy without contributing to climate change)