Today the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing entitled, "Fostering the U.S. Competitive Edge: Examining the Effect of Federal Policies on Competition, Innovation, and Job Growth." Testifying before the Committee were Dr. Ron Cohen, President and CEO of Acorda Therapeutics, Mr. Mike Truitt, Vice President of Ludlum Measurements Inc., Mr. Thomas Brandt, Jr., Senior Vice President and CFO of TeleCommunication Systems Inc., and Mr. Richard Bendis, Interim CEO of BioHealth Innovation, Inc. and President and CEO of Innovation America.
The stated purpose of the hearing was to better understand how Federal policies and regulations affect competition, innovation, and job growth, and to solicit input from leaders of innovative companies on ways to improve Federal economic and regulatory policy. Due to the broad topic of the hearing, witnesses spoke on a wide range of subjects from corporate tax policy to patent reform.
Ranking Member Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) said in her opening statement, "Without a doubt, regulatory, tax, immigration, and economic policies have an impact on innovation and competitiveness. And there are important steps that we can -- and should -- take in Congress to address these issues, including policies that I've long advocated such as increasing and making permanent the R&D tax credit and providing incentives for businesses to co-locate their research and development and manufacturing activities here in the United States However, I think it is most worthwhile for us to focus on those areas and programs within our Committee's jurisdiction that have an impact on innovation and competitiveness."
Ms. Edwards went on to identify several organizations and programs throughout the Federal government over which the Committee has jurisdiction that are seeking to partner with the private sector, State and local governments and academia to promote innovation and technology-based economic development such as, the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the regional innovation strategies program at the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, and the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Democrats stressed support for programs that help the private sector commercialize promising new technologies, particularly those that help address critical national needs or help commercialize technology resulting from Federal research and development investments. The private sector witnesses unanimously agreed that the Federal government has an important role to play in helping position their businesses for success, including by providing important early-stage funding through the SBIR and STTR programs, NIST's Advanced Technology Program (the predecessor to TIP), and the Small Business Administration.
"We need to identify innovation ecosystem gaps where the Federal government can play a role and design private-public partnership programs to leverage industry and the private sector resources. The Department of Commerce (DOC), NIST, and EDA are effective agencies that need additional resources to fill the gaps in the innovation program portfolio to create and support an integrated national innovation strategy that engages all stakeholders," said Mr. Bendis. "America has the assets, leadership, and innovation capability to develop a long-term strategic innovation plan that leverages all stakeholder resources, encourages collaboration, reduces redundancy, and restructures our Federal programs to maximize return on investment. We simply cannot afford the alternative."
In addition, several of the witnesses expressed the need to provide robust funding levels for Federal research programs.
"Investment in R&D is a significant driver of technological progress and economic growth," said Mr. Brandt. "Sources of these basic research funds have historically included NIH, NIST, DOD, DARPA and, most recently, ARPA-E. Continuing to support federally funded research through these agencies will nurture the symbiotic relationship between the government and private investment capital. Essentially, the private sector picks up where government funding leaves off."