How Science Can Create Millions of New Jobs
Posted by keelynet on September 5, 2009
“Reigniting basic research can repair the broken U.S. business model and put Americans back to work. Name an industry that can produce 1 million new, high-paying jobs over the next three years. You can’t, because there isn’t one. And that’s the problem.
America needs good jobs, soon. We need 6.7 million just to replace losses from the current recession, then an additional 10 million to keep up with population growth and to spark demand over the next decade. In the 1990s the U.S. economy created a net 22 million jobs, or 2.2 million a year. But from 2000 to the end of 2007, the rate plunged to 900,000 a year.
The pipeline is dry because the U.S. business model is broken. Our growth engine has run out of a key fuel—basic research. The U.S. infrastructure for scientific innovation has historically consisted of a loose public-private partnership. It included legendary institutions such as Bell Labs, RCA Labs, Xerox (XRX) PARC, and the research operations of IBM (IBM), along with NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and others.
In each of these organizations, programs with clear commercial potential were supported alongside pure research. There was ample corporate and venture capital funding for commercialization, so the labs were able to make enormous contributions to science, technology, and the economy—including the creation of millions of high-paying jobs.
The choice facing the country is to do nothing and risk the decline of innovation or act boldly by reasserting our faith in scientific inquiry and discovery. We can’t do this as a series of half steps that are expensive but ineffectual, that don’t reach critical mass or a critical rate of change.
This middle-road approach might well describe NASA over the past 30 years—not necessarily a good model. The better model is the one we have put aside: a dynamic public-private ecosystem of large-scale labs and a venture capital industry waiting downstream to commercialize ideas and turn them into large public companies that create lucrative and satisfying jobs. What’s needed to get that model back on track?
First, clear national goals in two or three key areas, such as carbon-free energy and preventive medicine.
Second, a commitment of $10 billion a year, above and beyond spending for national agencies, to jump-start new industrial research labs.
Third, government tax credits for corporations that promise to spend, say, 5% to 10% of R&D on basic research.” – Source
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