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U.S. Innovation Priority for U.S. Businesses?

Glad to see that Fast Company magazine covered the National Innovation Initiative Summit last December, since none of my friends attended! Ryan Underwood found the business leaders to be hypocritical, talking about supporting U.S. innovation while they were busy chasing lower-cost innovation resources from other countries.

Link: Walking the Talk?.

In Beijing, just as Palmisano was opening the event, executives from China's Lenovo Group Ltd. were wrapping up a meeting with analysts to discuss their acquisition of IBM's personal-computer division eight days earlier. As Jerry Sanders, cofounder of Advanced Micro Devices Inc., was warning that America "just has to move faster than everyone else," his company was announcing a deal to develop next-generation flash-memory technology with Taipei-based Macronix International Co. Ltd. Wagoner's General Motors had just agreed to let Taiwan's Yulon Motor Co. make cars under GM brands. All of which made the council's event and the NII report -- despite its 37 precise and considered policy recommendations -- seem little more than a grandly staged but perfunctory exercise in lip service. The CEO heavies mouthed the politic words, but their companies showed that today, innovation isn't bounded by national borders.

I don't disagree with Underwood, but if you read the report (confession: I haven't finished it yet), it's not so hypocritical because it's all about what the U.S. government ought to do to support U.S. innovation. These companies don't feel responsible. Maybe they should, but considering they expect to have growing revenue streams from these foreign countries, it's not unfair for them to employ their innovators as well.

Personally, I'd rather see U.S. corporations investing energy in getting socially responsible behavior from their foreign suppliers rather than growing more local innovators. Guess I've gone global, too.

One thing I do recommend about the report is using it as a terrific source for facts and quotes about the state of innovation. If your job involves selling innovations, then you should download a copy of the report (pdf).