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Closing the Innovation Deficit One Year Later: Some Progress But Much More Needed

One year after they launched a campaign to urge Congress and the President to close the nation’s innovation deficit, a group of prominent university, scientific, and business organizations today renewed their call for increased federal investments in research to build a strong long-term economy, improve medical treatments, and strengthen national security.

As Congress prepares to break for its August recess, leaving key FY15 funding decisions to be addressed in September, leaders from those organizations today conducted a coordinated nationwide effort to communicate the need to close the innovation deficit. The innovation deficit is the widening gap between actual and needed federal investments in research and higher education at a time when other nations such as China, India, and Singapore are dramatically boosting research funding to develop the next great technological and medical breakthroughs to power their economies forward.

“Scientific discovery and technological innovation have been driving forces of America’s economy, prosperity and well-being for decades,” said Texas Instruments Chairman, President, and CEO Richard Templeton, who serves as Chair of the Task Force on American Innovation. “But now our leadership is at risk. While we have pulled back on funding for research and education, other nations – seeing our success – have been investing aggressively in these areas. If we want to sustain U.S. economic strength, national security, and global competitiveness, we must renew our commitment to funding the basic scientific research that produces these benefits.”

“Innovation is the engine of the American economy, said L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT. “Investing in research and development is investing in our future.”

To help make the case, the organizations today unveiled an animated cartoon (GIF) featuring Uncle Sam, who happily stands under an illuminated “INNOVATION” sign, representing what happens when the federal government invests in scientific research. However, Uncle Sam quickly becomes dismayed when funding from Congress slows and he is left standing under a sign that just says “NO”. Other tools on the www.innovationdeficit.org website include an animated video, an infographic, and a number of charts, graphs, and other materials explaining the innovation deficit and the threat it poses to the nation’s economic future.

The campaign began one year ago today with a full-page ad in Politico featuring an open letter to the President and Congress that has been signed onto by more than 200 university presidents and chancellors. The letter described the innovation deficit and called on leaders to close it with investments in research and higher education. Today, more than 50 industry, scientific, patient, and higher education organizations support the effort to close the innovation deficit.

Organizations leading the effort today said that their members would be speaking to Members of Congress in their districts and on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks. They will urge lawmakers to place a high priority on investments in research in the FY15 appropriations process and, over the longer term, eliminate sequestration to make possible the increased investments needed to close the innovation deficit.

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