Hello. My name is Kim Polese, and I am a technology entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. As someone who has co-founded and led several groundbreaking products and companies in the technology industry, I care deeply about the topic of innovation. Innovation is at the foundation of a rich and vibrant economy. America has a proud history of leading the world in our innovative capacity, which has driven the creation of industries and jobs and broad-based economic prosperity for well over a century Inventions like the Internet, GPS satellite mapping, and the decoding of the human genome have led to creation of billion-dollar industries, and resulted in millions of jobs and strong GDP output and growth over recent decades.
But this hasn't happened by accident.
Each of these inventions and countless others can trace their roots not only to the entrepreneurs and investors and employees who built the companies, but to investments made over the last several decades by the Federal government in key areas including Education, Infrastructure and long- term Research and Development. We've had essentially an unchallenged position of leadership in our innovative capacity as a nation. But other countries aren't standing still. Other leading nations have learned from our successful history of making investment in innovation a priority, and the US has started to fall behind in several key metrics.
For example, at a time when technology skills are becoming more critical to obtaining well- paying jobs across all industries, only 12.8 % of US college students graduate in Science Technology Engineering and Math (also known as "STEM" fields), compared to significant economic competitors like South Korea at 26%, Germany at 25%, among many others. In under-represented groups like women and minorities, this difference is even more stark. The result is fewer job opportunities and lower wages and reduced prosperity.
Another element of America's historic leadership in innovation has been Federal investment in long-term Research and Development, which has been responsible for the birth of the Internet and the decoding of the human genome. A little-known- fact is that one of our national labs, the NSF, seeded Google by awarding funding for a project called the Digital Library Initiative, which a graduate student, Larry Page, used to create the foundation of the Google search engine. Inventions such as these do not happen by accident. It takes funding, via the support of Congress and of the America public, and the recognition that long- term research at a major scale is an investment in which the Federal government must play a leading role, as well as encouraging companies to make such investments. A key tool in ensuring we continue our leadership in this area is for Congress to extend and make permanent the R&D tax credit that incents companies to make the long-term and often high-risk investments that can yield high returns. The Federal Government is also essential in ensuring we have the 21st-Century infrastructure necessary to support the inventions and industries that help create economic opportunities and jobs for all Americans.
Investing in the Smart- Grid technologies, Next-generation Aviation and access for all Americans to our nation's broadband network is essential. When it comes to Broadband access, today, the US trails behind nations like Finland, Canada, Korea, the UK, Germany and many more. To support a thriving 21st -Century economy, the US must make high-speed Broadband access to all Americans a top priority. And we must ensure we continue to welcome the best and brightest from all over the world. Our nation's history of welcoming immigrants has long been at the root of our leadership in the world. But today's outdated immigration policies increasingly means that we educate many of the world's brightest students, and then send them home to compete against us, simply because they cannot obtain the proper Visa's. Immigration reform is urgently needed, and we can no longer afford to allow political bickering to delay enacting much-needed legislation in Congress. A country's innovative capacity depends on smart policies and investments made by our nation's leaders and supported by voters. Millions of Americans are out of jobs, and we face many challenges as a nation. The good news is that we know what needs to be done. Job creation, national security and economic prosperity for all are directly linked to our nation's innovation capacity, and the policies that enable this are not rocket science.
But each of us must find our voice as citizens and ensure that our legislators and elected leaders take action. It has been an honor to serve on the Innovation Advisory Board, and help to draw attention to this critical issue. I encourage you to read the report, contribute to the discussion and realize that you hold the key by encouraging your elected officials to support the policies that foster Innovation and that will help ensure America's global leadership and opportunities for all. Thank you for listening.
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