Federal Policies Designed to Encoruage Innovation

Since coming to office in January 2009, President Barak Obama has implemented economic recovery initiatives that will also provide the foundation for a stronger national economy in recovery.   Among other documents was the 2009 release of "Framework for Revitalizing American Manufacturing," which was followed by range of new innovation and manufacturing initiatives.  Examples of these initiatives are described below. 

A more complete review of federal initiatives that support innovation, manufacturing, business start-ups, and technology can be found at www.whitehouse.gov

Advanced Manufacturing

The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) was launched in June 2011 with the objective of bringing new investments to emerging technologies, creating high-quality manufacturing jobs, and enhancing our global competitiveness.  Key partners in the initiatives are industry, universities, and the federal government.  Related funding included $300 million in domestic manufacturing capabilities, $100 million in research and training investments to develop and deploy advanced materials, $70 million in robotics research and development, and $120 million of investment in innovative energy-efficient manufacturing processes.


The National Robotics Initiative is part of a broader effort to promote American manufacturing through the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.  According to the Whitehouse, the initiative will, among other things, advance core technology needed for next-generation robotics, increase the productivity of workers in the manufacturing sector; and help scientists accelerate the discovery of new, life-saving drugs.  As part of this initiative, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Department of Agriculture are funding $70 million of research for next-generation robotics.

Modern Patent System

Key innovation-based industries such as biotechnology, medical devices, telecommunications, the Internet, and advanced manufacturing, depend on a strong and healthy intellectual property system.  Unfortunately, the U.S. system was outdated, which limited innovation and too often resulted in costly delays and unnecessary litigation.  In September 2011, President Obama signed the America Invents Act to provide U.S. companies and investors with a modern patent system. 

Lab to Market 

The Administration has also implemented a number of initiatives to streamline technology-transfer procedures, support additional government-industry collaboration, and encourage the commercialization of the $148 billion in annual federally-funded research and development activities.  Some of these initiatives include: 

  • The launch of a new National Institutes of Health (NIH) center to assist biotech entrepreneurs.   
  • Development of a National Bioeconomy Blueprint to guide biological research that addresses health, food, energy, and environmental challenges.
  • A national call to action for universities to work more closely with industry, investors and federal agencies to "bolster entrepreneurship, encourage university-industry collaboration, and enhance economic development."
  • The deployment of special license agreements for early stage and small businesses to encourage their participation in NIH activities.

Wireless Infrastructure

The mission of the National Wireless Initiative is to make high-speed wireless services available to at least 98% of Americans. One aspect of the initiative is to make more airwaves available (in scientific terms, some 500 MHz of spectrum), which could be used for enhanced cell phones and other wireless services.


The American and Reinvestment Act provided $7 billion in targeted investments to expand broadband access nationwide, improved high-speed connectivity in rural areas and public computer centers, and increased Internet capacity in schools, libraries, public safety offices, and other community buildings.

A Smarter Power Grid

The American and Reinvestment Act also provided $4.5 billion in electricity delivery and energy reliability and modernization projects.  These federal moneys were leveraged with other public-private investments for a total investment of over $10 billion   

Learning Technologies

In September 2011 the Department of Education and private foundations launched Digital Promise, a new national center for advancing learning technologies. Digital Promise mission is to bring together the efforts of educators to entrepreneurs to spur the research, development, and adoption of breakthrough technologies that can help transform the way teachers teach and students learn. 

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