As powerful waves of technological innovation drive profound change throughout the global economy and society, policymakers often lack the specialized knowledge and informed perspective necessary to evaluate and respond to fast-moving issues and circumstances. What should they do to capitalize on new opportunities, overcome challenges, and avoid potential pitfalls? The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) exists to provide answers and point the way forward.
Founded in 2006, ITIF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute—a think tank—focusing on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy. Its mission is to formulate and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress.
ITIF does this in a number of ways:
- Setting the policy agenda on technology, innovation, and global competition issues by producing original research reports and analytical commentary;
- Shaping public debate by hosting events, giving speeches and presentations, providing official testimony, and serving as expert issue analysts in the news media; and
- Advising policymakers through direct interaction in Washington, DC, and other state, national, and regional capitals around the world.
On the strength and influence of this work, the University of Pennsylvania has ranked ITIF as the top science and technology think tank in the United States, and number two in the world.
ITIF is led by its president and founder, Robert D. Atkinson, an internationally recognized policy scholar and widely published author whom The New Republic has named one of the “three most important thinkers about innovation,” Washingtonian Magazine has called a “Tech Titan,” and Government Technology Magazine has judged to be one of the 25 top “Doers, Dreamers and Drivers of Information Technology.” Under Atkinson, ITIF’s team of policy analysts and fellows includes authors and recognized experts in the fields of economics, tax policy, trade, telecommunications, privacy, cybersecurity, and life sciences, among many others. ITIF also is home to the highly regarded Center for Data Innovation, which develops and promotes policy ideas to capitalize on the tremendous economic and social benefits that data-driven innovation can offer.
While producing its own original research, analysis, and commentary, ITIF also hosts a rich and voluminous program of panel discussions, debates, roundtables, and presentations featuring distinguished authors, prominent policymakers, influential thinkers, and other leaders on issues shaping the course of technology innovation. ITIF analysts also travel widely to engage in policymaking forums around the world. In recent years, these trips have led, among other places, to Ottawa, Mexico City, London, Brussels, Berlin, Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, Salzburg, Vienna, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, New Delhi, Seoul, Tokyo, and Beijing.
If a common theme or point of view runs through all of ITIF’s work, it is that public policy should almost always err on the side of spurring innovation instead of limiting or constraining it—and the conventional policy agendas of both the left and right are often ill-suited to the challenges and opportunities of today’s economy. ITIF believes that effective innovation policy requires policy innovation, which stems from disruptive new thinking that actively pushes back on faulty ideas.
The need for an expert resource such as ITIF is evidenced by the substantial impact it has in shaping tangible policy outcomes. In the last few years alone:
- Policymakers in the United States and Europe have pointed to ITIF’s research on the economic harms of government surveillance policies to build support for essential reforms;
- Governments from Singapore to Sweden have developed national innovation strategies based in significant part on a framework that ITIF developed and promoted in its book Innovation Economics;
- The U.S. Congress has advanced legislation incorporating ITIF recommendations on a wide range of issues, including research and development, national competitiveness, technology transfer, and taxes;
- The White House has relied on ITIF’s work in a variety of areas, including R&D tax reform, manufacturing technology, and broadband policy; and
- U.S. states, including Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island, have developed innovation policies based on ITIF proposals.
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