What’s the Role of the Government in Innovation? Takeaways from the C-PET ‘Innovation and the Role of Government’ Roundtable

On May 28, the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET) hosted a roundtable discussion examining the role of government in innovation. The Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET) is a knowledge network centered on identifying, clarifying, and prioritizing the “big questions” raised in future perspective. Among other objectives, C-PET seeks to examine the long-term growth of technologies and how they will grow more intertwined.

The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss the role of the government in future innovation. It was moderated by C-PET President and CEO Nigel Cameron and featured an expert panel of three professionals and one discussant. Here are the greatest takeaways from the discussion:

  • Jody Westby, C-PET Senior Fellow and founder of advisory firm Global Cyber Risk LLC, opened the discussion suggesting that the focus of innovation should not only be on new technologies, but also on innovation in business practices. She then raised the question of whether the U.S. will hold its role as the leader of innovation, stating that the efforts of developing countries exploding with innovation will generate pressure on America to increase its focus on innovation.
  • Michael Maibach, Senior Fellow for the Manufacturing and Society in the 21st Century program at The Aspen Institute, opened his remarks by stating that innovation lies at the heart of mankind. He believes that the government must do all it can to foster American manufacturing. Maibach argued that all great ideas must be scaled to full volume production, and if the government aims to foster innovation, it should adopt pro-manufacturing policies. To close, he stated that one of the first things the government should focus on is streamlining the IRS tax code and suggesting shifting from a world-wide to territorial tax system.
  • Stephen Ezell, Director of Global Innovation Policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), suggested that the government should invest in what he believes to be the basic building blocks of innovation: basic scientific research, infrastructure, and education. He stated that the government itself could be an active innovator, applying innovative concepts to policy. He stated that the government could also be an entrepreneurial state and proactive driver bringing new sectors and markets forward through strategic investments in broad sectors.
  • Dr. Nagy Hanna, former Head of Corporate Strategy at the World Bank, acted as the roundtable’s discussant. He suggested that the government only focus on the fundamentals, creating the right incentives adequate enough for innovation. Dr. Hanna argued that breakthrough innovations need to be federally supported, and questioned whether the government could do a lot more through strengthened partnerships in the private sector. Ultimately, he stated that it is up to society to decide how much we want to invest in innovation in the future.
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Mackenzie is a Marketing Fellow and a rising junior at Villanova University. She is planning to co-major in Marketing and Finance and minor in Business Entrepreneurship. As a part of her studies, she has created and presented a comprehensive marketing plan to professionals from The Vanguard Group featuring Vanguard's exchange-traded funds.


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