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Need for Speed: Research Series on U.S. Competitiveness and Innovation

Every generation or so, the United States endures a bout of anxiety over how it fares against other nations in technological innovation, scientific research, and economic dynamism. We are in the middle of another such period. Warning signs about U.S. competitiveness, compounded by economic pressures from China, raise the stakes for policymakers in taking action.

Lawmakers are hungry for better knowledge and understanding of everything that falls under the banner of “competitiveness.” From semiconductor subsidies to export controls, the defense industrial base to workforce development, the very notion of competitiveness policy is almost too broad to draw boundaries around. That makes it nearly impossible for any individual member of Congress or their staff to stay fully informed about every dimension of competitiveness.

Robust research exists on topics related to competitiveness, such as industrial policy and technology commercialization, and states and regions across the U.S. have experience developing successful innovation policy. Yet there are few good mechanisms or processes for summarizing those lessons and translating them in a useful way for decision makers.

To fill this gap, we are kicking off a series of research summaries that will give public and private leaders relevant information and understanding to guide future action.

There has been a proliferation of academic literature on our nation’s competitiveness strategy, the “long game” being played by China, and whether U.S. leaders “got China wrong.” Researchers have also called attention to economic indicators that point to a steady decline in domestic dynamism. The topics we cover will span a range of issue areas, including the competitiveness implications of growing federal debt, different types of industrial policy, and lessons learned from past place-based policy.


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