Encouraging innovation is one of the most important things we can do, but it isn’t easy to figure out what would work. But I just saw a very good new proposal that addresses some key issues.Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Scott Brown (R-MA) have introduced the Innovate America Act. (I’m all for innovation being a bipartisan issue).
Here’s some of the key parts of the proposed legislation.
- Encourage greater commercialization of Research and Development by expanding the Basic Research Tax Credit to include all industry-funded university research
- Allow companies to take a flat 30-percent tax credit for donating equipment to high schools and technical and community colleges
- Fund 100 new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)-focused high schools
- Incentivize colleges and universities to increase graduation rates for STEM students
- Remove regulatory barriers for top 20 exporting industries
- Enforce existing international exporting and importing laws
Frankly, Congress should pass this tomorrow. In part, the legislation is designed to build a better bridge between the universities/community colleges/high schools and industry. That may be one of the most important things we can do. The old industrial labs system has broken down, except in a few rare companies (Corning, anyone?), and the current education-corporate linkage has not turned out to be a good substitute. The Klobuchar-Brown bill would try to help that. And I love the idea of reducing regulations for top exporting industries.
I would make one amendment, though. When we think about top exporting industries, we should focus on value-added in the U.S. rather than gross shipments. That way we help industries generate more value and jobs in the U.S.