[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 24 (Friday, February 4, 2011)]
[Pages 6395-6397]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-2558]



Office of the Secretary

Request for Comments on the Strategy for American Innovation

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice and request for information.


SUMMARY: The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 directs the 
Department of Commerce (DOC), in consultation with the National 
Economic Council (NEC), to deliver to Congress a study by January 4, 
2011 on our nation's innovative capacity and international 
competitiveness. Section 604, Public Law No: 111-358. To assist with 
that effort, the DOC is initiating a series of public engagements, 
seeking input on a range of policy matters that can affect our 
innovativeness and competitiveness. The subject area is quite broad. As 
a starting point, DOC publishes this Notice and Request for Information 
(RFI) to obtain comment on the Administration's Innovation Strategy 
(see http://www.Commerce.gov/competes for a link to the report). This 
strategy document summarizes policy initiatives that aim to improve our 
national innovation system, and thereby accelerate our economic growth 
by increasing the international competitiveness of American businesses 
and workers. This RFI provides an opportunity for interested parties to 
discuss those initiatives. In the coming months, DOC will create 
additional opportunities for the public to comment on a range of 
related topics, such as those specifically identified in the America 
COMPETES Reauthorization Act but not mentioned in the Strategy.

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DATES: Comments must be postmarked or submitted by no later than April 
1, 2011.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by ``Innovation Strategy 
RFI'' by any of the following methods: E-mail: [email protected]. 
Mail: Office of the Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 
Constitution Avenue, NW., HCHB Room 4852, Washington, DC 20230.

[email protected]. Telephone: 202 482-3659.



    The Administration's Innovation Strategy details its efforts to 
strengthen our nation's competitiveness and long-run economic growth. 
The document explains the essential role of innovation in American 
prosperity, the central importance of the private sector as the engine 
of innovation, and the critical, targeted roles of government in 
supporting our innovation system. The document further describes 
longer-run goals and milestones for our nation. The Strategy organizes 
the Administration's existing policy initiatives into three parts:

(1) Invest in the Building Blocks of American Innovation

    The premise here is that economic growth builds upon investments in 
the basic foundations of society--such as education, basic research, 
and modern infrastructure--and that without such investments innovation 
cannot thrive. In line with the Strategy, the Administration's pro-
innovation initiatives seek to generate the highest returns on 
investments in each of these areas: in education and training systems 
that can increase opportunities for American workers and increase their 
innovative capacity; in basic research that can unearth and unleash 
fundamental scientific breakthroughs that, in turn, often can lead to 
cascades of commercial innovations, as well as the birth of new 
enterprises and industries; and in critical infrastructure, including 
our nation's transportation and electricity systems and the information 
and computer networks that increasingly drive 21st century economies.

(2) Promote Market-Based Innovation

    The Strategy also recognizes that American businesses and the 
marketplace are the engines of innovation. Through its various 
initiatives, the Administration seeks to ensure that commercial 
innovation remains the driving force for our economic growth, that 
businesses enjoy the right competitive landscape for innovation at home 
and abroad, and that the government administers central 
responsibilities, such as those surrounding intellectual property 
rights, competition policy, international trade, spectrum auctions, 
corporate taxation, and regulatory law, in an optimal manner to promote 

(3) Catalyze Breakthroughs for National Priorities

    Finally, the Strategy points out that in areas of well-defined 
national importance, public investments often can catalyze advances, 
bringing about key breakthroughs and establishing U.S. leadership 
faster than what might be possible otherwise. Here, the Administration 
seeks to make strategic investments beyond the ken of the private 
sector, using the right mechanisms, in the best portfolio of national 
priority areas, including clean energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, 
educational and health information technologies, and space 

Request for Information

    This RFI focuses on how the Administration can improve its efforts 
in these areas. The Administration recognizes that good ideas come from 
many corners, which is a driving force for the success of our 
marketplace in generating commercial innovations and the success of our 
research institutions in generating fundamental scientific 
breakthroughs. This RFI seeks to draw on that same American ingenuity, 
expertise, and insight to improve those governmental activities that 
nurture the innovation potential of our nation.
    The following questions should be seen as a framework for providing 
comments on the specific policies outlined in the Administration's 
Strategy for American Innovation. Commenters should not feel 
constrained by them. We are not only interested in feedback on existing 
pro-innovation initiatives, but also seek guidance on how these 
initiatives might be adjusted for the coming years. And, we seek 
recommendations for related, new initiatives. Commenters should not 
hesitate to offer new ideas, including new strategic priorities, for 
achieving the longer-run goals of accelerating economic growth and 
competitiveness. The following list is intended to assist in the 
formulation of comments but not to restrict the issues that might be 
    (1) Government research and development: How can the economic 
impacts of basic research funding (e.g., NSF, NIH) be better measured 
and evaluated? What methods can the Federal Government use to 
prioritize funding areas of basic research, both within an area of 
science and across areas of science? How can existing Federal 
government institutions (not just organizations, but also programs, 
policies, and laws) devoted to basic research and innovation be 
improved? Are there new institutions of these types that are needed to 
achieve national innovation goals? How could the government increase 
support for industry-led, pre-competitive R&D?
    (2) Entrepreneurship: Through what measures can government policy 
better facilitate the creation and success of innovative new 
businesses? What obstacles limit entrepreneurship in America, and which 
of these obstacles can be reduced through public policy? What are the 
most important policy, legal, and regulatory steps that the federal 
government could take to expand access to capital for high-growth 
    (3) Intellectual Property: What are the key elements of any legal 
reform effort that would ensure that our intellectual property system 
provides timely, high-quality property rights and creates the best 
incentives for commercial innovation? How can the intellectual property 
system better serve the dual goals of creating incentives for knowledge 
creation while also ensuring that knowledge is widely diffused and 
adopted and moves to its best economic and societal uses?
    (4) Education: How important is catalyzing greater interest and 
training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) 
fields? What strategies can be most effective on this score? Can 
educational technologies be better utilized to this end? What are the 
critical opportunities and limitations to the creation and adoption of 
effective education technologies? How can investments in community 
colleges better leverage public-partnerships to better train Americans 
for the jobs of today and tomorrow?
    (5) Incentives to innovate: How could the government better use 
incentives (including but not limited to procurement, Advanced Market 
Commitments, incentive prizes, and aggregation of demand) to promote 
innovation? Are there other economically-sound incentives that the 
government should provide?
    (6) Manufacturing: What is the role of advanced manufacturing in 
driving American economic growth and international competitiveness, and 
what are the key obstacles to success at

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advanced manufacturing? In which manufacturing industries will our 
nation have comparative advantages?
    (7) Exports: How could the government better assist small and 
medium-sized domestic firms sell their products abroad? What policies 
can be pursued that would help all U.S. businesses increase their 
    (8) Implications of changes in the innovative process: In recent 
years, some experts have noted that the innovation process itself is 
changing, and that approaches such as user-driven innovation, open 
innovation, design thinking, combinatorial innovation, modularity, and 
multi-disciplinary innovation are growing in importance. What are the 
policy implications of these and other changes in the innovation 
process? Should policy makers be thinking differently about our 
approach to industrial organization and competition policy in light of 
these changes?
    (9) Innovation in the services sector: What sectors of the economy 
have gained less from innovation in the past and--to the extent that 
innovation could have sustained competitiveness--what are the obstacles 
to their progress? What are the policy issues that are raised by the 
nature of innovation in the service sector?
    (10) Enhancing the exchange of ideas: How can public policy better 
promote the exchange of ideas among market participants--that is, 
support ``markets for technology''--that enhance the social value of 
innovations? Similarly, how can the government assist in the diffusion 
of best practices? Given that ideas and knowledge cannot be traded as 
readily as are physical goods, what is the government's role in 
supporting more effective markets?
    We recognize that since the initial launch of the Innovation 
Strategy in 2009, DOC and other parts of the Administration have 
released other Requests for Information on innovation-related topics. 
For instance, DOC's Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship (http://www.eda.gov/OIE) has collaborated with the NEC and the Office of 
Science and Technology Policy on, among other things, an RFI focused on 
improving the commercialization of university-driven basic research. 
See http://www.eda.gov/PDF/WH%20RFI%20Announcement.pdf. Many of these 
inquiries are still in-process. Commenters on this RFI are welcome to 
submit materials generated for those other matters in order to build 
the record for our January 2012 report to Congress. Additional reports, 
articles, and analyses are also welcome, although we strongly urge that 
they be submitted electronically and that commenters identify in their 
cover letters how those other materials relate to this inquiry.

    Issued in Washington, DC on February 1, 2011.
John Connor,
Office of the Secretary of Commerce.
[FR Doc. 2011-2558 Filed 2-3-11; 8:45 am]