Sometimes, maybe too often, I don’t realize what I think about an issue, topic, or trend until I’m asked about it. That was certainly the case this week when Tech Policy Central’s founder Natalie Fonseca asked for my views on technology policy in the new administration. Tech Policy Central is an outgrowth of the Tech Policy Summit, an annual event entering its third year that “brings together prominent leaders from the private and public sectors to examine critical policy issues impacting technology innovation and adoption in the United States and beyond.” The event’s speakers are a Who’s Who of policy makers, technology executives, and elected officials.
As a lead up to the Summit in March 23-25, 2009 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Natalie has been polling her Advisory Board members (click here for her Q&A with Craig Newmark), and yesterday was my turn to respond to her questions. I’d not put much though to tech policy in the context of the current economy, so Natalie’s questions sparked some thinking.
Here’s the Q&A:
Tech Policy Central: When it comes to promoting technology innovation, what do you think the top priorities should be for the next Administration and Congress?
Chris Shipley: Programs that promote and support entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs are the driver of the technology economy, particularly in difficult times. They build the companies, hire the workers and create new value.
I’d like to see the National Science Foundation’s business development grants program expanded for technology innovation and tech transfer. The funding, relative to viable ideas/need, is remarkably little. I’d like to see investment in regional Innovation Centers. I’d like to see tax credits for entreprenerus who take personal risk to start their companies.
TPC: You meet with hundreds of entrepreneurs from around the world every year. Based on your conversations with those innovators and your own travels abroad, do you believe that Silicon Valley is in danger of losing its competitive edge in the global economy?
CS: I think Silicon Valley is learning that the global market is spawning innovation in every corner; that Silicon Valley doesn’t have a lock on great technology invention and innovation. Still, the Valley remains the epicenter of innovation. Foreign technology companies believe that they must come to the U.S., generally, and Silicon Valley, specifically, in order to grow their company and capture significant market share worldwide. Silicon Valley’s wealth of expertise, capital and experience is a magnetic pull for non-U.S. companies, and I believe it will continue to be in the foreseeable future.
TPC: If you were to name one tech policy area where you’d like to see greater federal government involvement, what would it be?
CS: Broadband digital infrastructure is critical to the economic competitiveness of the United States. And, as importantly, it bridges the divide in the U.S. between those who have and those who have not. Access to information is and will continue to be a tremendously valuable currency. Investment in universal access to broadband infrastructure is an investment in a wide array of health and human services, including education, anti-poverty programs, public safety, crime prevention and the like.