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Washington, business talk about America's innovation challenges

We created the light bulb, automobile, computer chip and Internet. But is the United States losing its innovative mojo? That’s the fear of 61 percent of Americans surveyed by Newsweek and Intel recently, who said they believe the economic recession has hurt the nation’s edge in innovations.

Today, political leaders, policymakers and the titans of industries gather in Washington to hash out ideas on how to get that mojo back and what the key is to unlocking innovations of the future.

Last night, Larry Summers, director of the White House National Economic Council, opened the Innovation Economy Conference. He said the Obama administration is for its part trying to nurture an environment that would bolster innovations through the support of science and math education and through the encouragement of entrepreneurs.

Specifically, he said the White House supports the extension of a research and development tax credit that expires this year. Summers said the administration seeks to grow research and development to become 3 percent of gross domestic product, compared to 2 percent today.

“We need to be a culture that is hospitable to scientists,” he said. “Our future will be greater than our past as long as we stay nervous.”

And Americans, according to a Newsweek poll, are concerned about the future. The poll of 4,800 adults that was sponsored by Intel showed that 73 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is technologically innovative but 41 percent said they believe the U.S. will stay ahead of China’s technological strides.

Today, more policy and business leaders will weigh in on the discussion. D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and Stanford University President John L. Hennessy will talk about educating the next generation of innovators. National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins and World Science Festival co-founder Brian Greene will talk about support for science. Intel CEO Paul S. Otellini will talk about corporate competition and innovation. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski will speak about broadband Internet infrastructure as a key to innovative economies.

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Chart: Newsweek

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 1, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
 
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