SPIE CEO tells Congress that 'aggressive' action key to U.S. being competitive with China

March 27, 2009--"The United States must move aggressively to establish a new innovation infrastructure to become competitive again," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs on March 24th as a member of a three-person panel before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on the impact of industrial policy on U.S. companies, workers, and the economy. The commission reports annually to Congress on the trade and economic relationship between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China.

March 27, 2009--"The United States must move aggressively to establish a new innovation infrastructure to become competitive again," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs on March 24th as a member of a three-person panel before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on the impact of industrial policy on U.S. companies, workers, and the economy (see "SPIE, OIDA to testify on U.S. impact of China technology policy" at www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/356951). The commission reports annually to Congress on the trade and economic relationship between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China.

Arthurs urged the commission to recommend that Congress develop "a comprehensive, informed review of the United States' fragmented national photonics technology portfolio," and provide ongoing, active guidance to federal science agencies. For example, a comprehensive national policy will help ensure that decades of work in the Department of Energy laboratories, particularly the National Renewable Energy Lab, is applied to enabling solar energy manufacturing in America, Arthurs said.

He reiterated SPIE's "unequivocal support" for R&D, but said that U.S. R&D no longer assured high value manufacturing jobs in the U.S. He agreed with earlier testimony on concerns about the devastating effect that the drive to increase immediate-term shareholder value has had on the U.S. economy. "The focus on shareholder value has mitigated against the long view for R&D, and at least in part led to the divergence of the corporate interest from the national interest," Arthurs said. "R&D is vitally important, but unless there is return on corporate and national R&D, a healthy U.S. R&D manufacturing symbiosis, R&D will dry up."

Arthurs recommended that the government expand funding for the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as well as the set-aside amounts for the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) within science agencies. "The TIP Program at NIST is a small step in the right direction, but its funding is totally inadequate," he said. "The excellent SBIR program should be expanded and the evaluation process should place more emphasis on local job creation."

For more information, go to spie.org/x34584.xml.

--Posted by Gail Overton, gailo@pennwell.com; www.laserfocusworld.com.

A complete review of the China testimony from SPIE and OIDA will appear in the April 15th issue of Optoelectronics Report. Please subscribe to Optoelectronics Report at www.optoelectronicsreport.com, the twice-monthly eNewsletter from the editors at Laser Focus World and BioOptics World that covers both national and international business news and market trends and tracks technology advances to interpret their business implications.

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