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SPIE joins in call to action for ‘American Innovation Imperative’

Action follows American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream

23 June 2015

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, today joined scores of other organizations as well as leaders of American business, industry, higher education, science, and engineering in an urgent call to action for stronger federal policies and investment to drive domestic research and development. Ten CEOs and 252 organizations signed "Innovation: An American Imperative," a document aimed at federal decision makers and legislators. It underscores the findings -- and warnings -- contained in The American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream.

The CEOs who have signed on to the effort are:

  • Samuel R. Allen, Chairman & CEO, John Deere
  • Norman R. Augustine, Co-Chair, Restoring the Foundation
  • Wes Bush, Chairman, President & CEO, Northrop Grumman
  • Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman & CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.
  • Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman, President, & CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation
  • Charles O. Holliday, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc
  • Joseph Jimenez, CEO, Novartis
  • W. James McNerney, Jr., Chairman of the Board & CEO, The Boeing Company
  • Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
  • Jay Timmons, President and CEO, National Association of Manufacturers

According to Restoring the Foundation, "There is a deficit between what America is investing and what it should be investing to remain competitive, not only in research but in innovation and job creation." The United States is failing to keep pace with competitor nations with regard to investments in basic research and development. America's ascendency in the 20th century was due in large part -- if not primarily -- to its investments in science and engineering research. Basic research is behind every new product brought to market, every new medical device or drug, every new defense and space technology and many innovative business practices.

James McNally, chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science & Technology Policy (ESTeP) Committee, said the report lays out a formula for success in the global marketplace.

"The American Innovation Imperative call to action for smart federal investments in R&D will translate directly into innovations in manufacturing processes and development of new products that were hallmarks of our 20th century industrial might," McNally said. "It will lead to the creation of new, high-value jobs, improvements in the quality of life across the globe, and position US companies to be more competitive."

The ESTeP Committee promotes understanding at all levels of policy making about issues that affect the well-being of the optical science and engineering communities worldwide.

Over the last two decades, a steady decline in investment in research and development (R&D) in the United States has allowed our nation to fall to 10th place in R&D investment among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and development (OECD) nations as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

At this pace, China will surpass the United States in R&D intensity in about eight years.

These developments led a diverse coalition of those concerned with the future of research in America to join together in presenting the Innovation Imperative to federal policy makers and urging them to take action to:

  • End sequestration's deep cuts to federal investments in R&D
  • Make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit
  • Improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM)
  • Reform U.S. visa policy
  • Streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations
  • Reaffirm merit-based peer review
  • Stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing

SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs said that these steps represent a comprehensive approach to the current competitive landscape.

"It is gratifying to see such a broad coalition of science and technology stakeholders speak with one voice about the critical challenges we face," Arthurs said. "Government leaders must be aware that the report's recommended actions are needed now, in order to foster global competitiveness for American industry."

Details on these action items, as well as a full list of signatories, are included in the full document, which is linked above and posted on the websites of each of the following organizations:

  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Association of Universities
  • Association of Public and Land-grant Universities
  • Battelle
  • Coalition for National Science Funding
  • Coalition for National Security Research
  • Council on Competitiveness
  • Energy Sciences Coalition
  • Task Force on American Innovation
  • The Science Coalition

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, a not-for-profit educational organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences, continuing education, books, journals, and a digital library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014. www.spie.org



Amy Nelson
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