Making Progress

The Next Media Ventures Blog

Research or Die

Basic research is the foundation of innovation. That’s true of every level of entrepreneurship, from national policies to personal growth.

Adrian Slywotzky’s article in Business Week, Where Have You Gone, Bell Labs? – How basic research can repair the broken U.S. business model, is an astute assessment of the realities facing the United States economy.

Yes, research is a crapshoot. Nothing is guaranteed; not the outcome, not the discoveries, not the directions, not the patents, not the payoffs. But if you want to build and maintain a thriving economy, you have to do research. No research means no discoveries. No discoveries means no innovations. No innovations means no new business.

According to the article, here’s what’s needed to get that model back on track:

  • Clear national goals in two or three key areas, such as carbon-free energy and preventive medicine
  • Government commitment of $10 billion a year above and beyond spending for national agencies to jump-start new industrial research labs
  • Government tax credits for corporations that commit to spending 5% to 10% [or more] of R&D on basic research

His bottom-line is that if only a dozen major companies respond to that challenge they can, in collaboration with the government, solve our jobs problem within a decade.

If they don’t…

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