NEW YORK – Born at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, the United States has creativity and invention written into its DNA. By emphasizing economic freedom and individual achievement, the US has fostered a strong entrepreneurial culture. And, by marketing cutting-edge technologies, financing their development, and purchasing them, Americans consistently transform innovation into economic growth.
Indeed, despite the US economy’s troubles in recent years, its educational, marketing, and financing capabilities remain robust. As developing and advanced countries alike clamor to increase their share of innovation-driven economic growth, the US has already established the necessary institutions – and a solid lead.
Before the Industrial Revolution, global economic growth was gradual and intermittent, depending on population growth, the discovery of treasure, and unexpected technological advances. But, as traditional cost structures and production techniques yielded to mechanization and vast economies of scale, consumers gained access to a cornucopia of new (or newly affordable) goods.
When manufacturing and trade replaced agriculture and household labor as the dominant economic activities, technological innovation became commercially and militarily vital. The US, Europe, and Japan established national innovation infrastructures, comprising government research entities, scientific institutes, research and development laboratories, and technologically oriented universities, night schools, and vocational schools.