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Tech Vendors To Congress: More R&D Help, Please

During last week’s hearings about U.S. competition issues, an IBM executive called for more tax incentives and other measures to help boost American innovation.

WASHINGTON — Technology innovation and targeted federal R&D investments are critical to U.S. competitiveness in a global economy, industry executives told Congress.

“Innovation has become the new arbiter of national competitiveness. We must recognize innovation as a national priority,” Nicholas Donofrio, IBM Corp.’s executive vice president for innovation and technology, told the House Science Committee during a July 21 hearing on U.S. competitiveness. “The challenge is not only to generate fresh ideas and intellectual property, but to transform ideas and intellectual property into new value.”

The hearing was called to examine growing concerns that the U.S. is losing its competitive advantage. A host of technology groups have called for greater federal support for research and development along with science and engineering education.

Industry groups have also launched a National Innovation Initiative to highlight their concerns and develop an action plan to promote innovation.

In his testimony, Donofrio proposed the creation of a White House office to serve as a focal point for coordinating U.S. innovation policies. He also called for new tax incentives to provide scholarships for future scientists and engineers along with overhauling immigration policies to attract and retain engineering talent from around the world.

Industry groups have also called for shifting more federal R&D funding for basic research projects with greater risk but bigger technological rewards. “The United States is on the cutting edge of global competition because of our past investments in science and technology,” Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Mich, a ranking member of the science panel, said in a statement. “Whether we remain in that position depends on how well we understand the drivers of innovation and how we choose to respond.”

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