The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation just released an excellent report called Is China Catching Up to the United States in Innovation? It looks like the answer is “yes.”
The report concludes that China is making more rapid progress in innovation and advanced technology industries than the United States. The report says there is no reason not to expect China to follow the same path as the “Asian tigers,” (Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong) and rapidly evolve from copier to innovator. But with China, the implications of this for the United States will likely be far greater in terms of its impact on U.S. economic prosperity and national security.
The report says that even though China is presently behind in new-to-the-world or first-of-a-kind innovation, it would be misguided to draw conclusions based on an overly narrow definition of “innovation.” The report goes on to remind us that innovation includes more than just science and engineering and though China is right now in a “fast-follower” stage in those areas, it is making greater progress in other areas like customer-focused and efficiency-driven innovation.
According to the report, no other government in history has done more to promote an innovation-based economy than China. To ensure its continued leadership in innovation and advanced technology, the US needs to implement its own national innovation and competitiveness strategy. The report goes so far as to say that the US needs to react to China’s progress in much the same way it reacted to Sputnik in the 1960s. In other words, the United States needs another Sputnik moment.
Do you agree with this assessment? Will the United States react? How should the United States react? Has the United States already reacted?