Asia, the U.S., and innovation

There’s plenty of optimism to be heard about Asia’s innovation future — but less optimism about the U.S.’s ability to maintain its historical innovation leadership in the 21st century.

Here's a sign of the times: McKinsey & Company's "What Matters" site hosted an online debate about innovation -- except both of the expert authors, Iqbal Z. Quadir and Robert Atkinson, agreed on the central topic of the debate: that Asia could become the world's innovation center in the 21st century. (Quadir, who directs the Legatum Center at MIT and founded GrameenPhone, focused more on Asia's strengths, Atkinson more on shortcomings in U.S. industrial policy.)

Meanwhile, Aneesh Chopra, the Obama administration's chief technology officer, said in an interview this week with the San Jose Mercury News that he is concerned about the U.S.'s competitive position in technology innovation. Asked in the interview if he was worried about U.S. competitiveness in business and technology, Chopra responded: "Absolutely."

Chopra cited findings from an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation report earlier this year that reported that, although the U.S ranks reasonably well in current competitiveness, it ranked last among 40 nations in its improvement in various competitiveness indicators.