The Time for Innovation-Friendly Policies Is Now, Key Companies Say

“Innovation” is the buzzword of 2012. So it makes perfect sense that hosting a conference in Washington, D.C., to talk about innovation would coincide with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner tour. The Atlantic Innovation Summit took place on Tuesday May 8th at Ronald Reagan National Airport, pulling together some of the most notable figures in business.

Throughout the day, speakers touched on the various methods of achieving innovation and keeping the United States the top destination for entrepreneurs. Jim McNerney, Boeing’s CEO, highlighted the need for the government to invest in the early stages of research and education. This has become critical in light of the skills gap many technology companies now face; although they are oriented toward growth, the companies cannot find workers with the skills necessary to fill the jobs they want to create.

McNerney was not alone. Samuel Palmisano, chairman of IBM, spoke bluntly about the need for a revamped immigration policy. He and McNerney shared the view that it is not just the large corporations that are suffering, but also the small businesses that they rely on to supply parts, services, and information to their companies. It was evident throughout all the discussions that our country has done a great job in getting the brightest minds in the world to attend our universities and fuel our higher education. However, once these foreign students graduate, they are in many cases forced to leave, taking their valuable portfolios of skills and knowledge with them.

Google’s chief technology advocate, Michael Jones, was very frank in this regard. He felt strongly that U.S. policy needs to be changed to encourage these incredible minds to stay and start businesses in the United States. If we can get them to start businesses and encourage American citizens to acquire the education needed to close the skills gap, he predicted that our economy would flourish.

Overall, the day was filled with incredible interviews and inspiring panels highlighting the varied reasons why the United States needs to get out in front of the innovation wave. The message came through loud and clear: implementing innovation-friendly policies will allow small businesses to grow and create the economic momentum our country so strongly desires.

—Erik Gulbrandsen, Special Assistant

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