America Isn’t Out Of Ideas. In Fact, A New Era Of Innovation Is About To Begin

Innovation Is Never A Single Event

We tend to see innovations as events. Thomas Edison invents the light bulb. Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin. Steve Jobs launches the Macintosh. A single spark leads to transformational change and our lives are improved. However, that’s not how innovation really happens.

How America Became Exceptional

America wasn’t always a technological superpower. In fact, at the turn of the 20th century, the United States was largely a scientific backwater. The dearth of knowledge was so great that promising young scientists often went to Europe to complete their doctorates.

The Next Wave: Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics

Today, there are three emerging technologies that have significant potential to have profound impacts over the next decade: Genomics, nanotechnology and robotics. Each of these has transformational potential, but taken together they may very well lead to a new era of prosperity, much as electricity and the internal combustion engine did in the last century.

Getting From Innovation To Transformation

In his article, Ip cites two primary causes for the lull in productivity, the rising costs of research and increased regulation, neither of which ring true. Research costs may indeed be rising, but as he also notes, the rate at which patents are granted is accelerating. And while regulation does have the potential to slow innovation, sluggish productivity is a global phenomenon, so it’s hard to see how US legislation can be to blame.



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Greg Satell

Greg Satell

Bestselling Author of Cascades and Mapping Innovation, @HBR Contributor, - Learn more at — note: I use Amazon Affiliate links for books.