Secretary Penny Pritzker this week attended the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), an annual showcase of the very latest in technology innovation. In addition to touring the floor, Secretary Pritzker participated in the "America is Open for Business and Innovation" Super Session, a one-on-one conversation with President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, Gary Shapiro. Throughout the Super Session, Secretary Pritzker discussed the Commerce Department's initiatives to strengthen America's competitive edge by investing in innovation and entrepreneurship.
Secretary Pritzker highlighted some of the key ways in which the department works to promote innovation. For example, the department has undertaken great efforts to reform the patent process and reduce the patent backlog, and is moving forward with an aggressive agenda to support U.S. manufacturing. She spoke about the compelling economic case for immigration reform, and need for skilled workforce training. These efforts will help create the conditions that allow private sector companies to out-innovate anyone in the world.
Pritzker noted that the companies present at CES are critical to the strength of the U.S. economy. U.S. tech employment in 2012 totaled nearly 6 million, and the tech industry paid an annual average wage of $93,800 that same year. That is 98 percent more than the average private sector wage of $47,400. The app economy alone has created more than 500,000 jobs.
Prior to her Super Session, Secretary Pritzker toured the conference floor. She visited the Eureka Park, which is the physical space for startups looking to gain footing in the consumer electronics industry. Many of the 200 exhibitors In Eureka Park used this opportunity to launch or showcase a new product, service, or idea. She also visited Cisco's booth where she learned about the Internet of Things, which is projected to be 50 billion objects from household appliances to manufacturing floors by 2020. She tried out the new Snapdragon pen by Qualcomm. The pen allows users to write or draw on any flat surface and the writing or drawing will be simultaneously transcribed on user's tablet. This enables the user to write or draw in ink on a notepad, but also have a digital copy for safe keeping or future editing. Finally, she stopped at Intel's booth to look at their new wearable devices, which included a baby monitor.
Secretary Pritzker concluded her CES activities at a roundtable meeting with the CEOs and founders of 10 highly innovative technology, consumer electronics, and venture capital firms, including Mike McNamara of Flextronics, Josh Berman of BeachMint, and Sam Friedman of ParkMe. They discussed ways for the US to strengthen its competitive position globally and how the federal government can support American innovators as they adapt to changing market realities here and abroad.
Promoting innovation is one of the Department of Commerce's top priorities and a key pillar of the "Open for Business Agenda." Innovation is the key driver of U.S. competitiveness, wage and job growth, and long term economic growth. Specifically, the Department is especially focused on skills training and protecting the digital economy to grow the economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class.