UO President Michael Gottfredson recently signed an open letter to Congress and President Obama, calling for measures to repair a widening national ‘innovation deficit.’ The letter, released July 31, was signed by 164 U.S. university presidents and chancellors and was published as a full-page advertisement in Politico. It defines the innovation deficit as the gap between withering national support for research and higher education and the greater investment in funding these areas receive in other countries.
The letter acknowledges the difficulties that have led to funding cuts to research and higher education, referencing sequestration, the underlying federal debt and deficit, and the political difficulty of resolving these fiscal issues. The signers urge Congress and the President to reverse these cuts, arguing that spending on research and higher education actually improves the nation’s fiscal situation by fostering economic success.
It goes on to observe that “[m]ore than half of U.S. economic growth since World War II is a consequence of technological innovation,” and that much of this innovation was spurred by federal research funding. American success in leveraging national funding for research and higher education has invited other countries to follow suit; the letter identifies China, Singapore and South Korea as heavy investors in innovation. As these countries’ higher education funding has risen, the U.S. has not followed suit and the U.S. has fallen to 12th place in a ranking of countries by share of young adults holding degrees.
For more about the presidents’ letter, see http://www.innovationdeficit.org/.