As technological innovation transforms the global economy and society, policymakers often lack the specialized knowledge and expert 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 an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute—a think tank. Its mission is to formulate, evaluate, and promote policy solutions that accelerate innovation and boost productivity to spur growth, opportunity, and progress. ITIF’s goal is to provide policymakers around the world with high-quality information, analysis, and recommendations they can trust. To that end, ITIF adheres to a high standard of research integrity with an internal code of ethics grounded in analytical rigor, policy pragmatism, and independence from external direction or bias.
ITIF focuses on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy—including economic issues related to innovation, competitiveness, trade, and globalization; and technology-related issues in the areas of information technology and data, broadband telecommunications, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, agricultural biotechnology, and clean energy.
Ongoing research programs and educational activities include:
- 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, publishing op-eds, and serving as expert issue analysts in the news media; and
- Advising policymakers through direct interaction in Washington, D.C., 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 world’s leading think tank for science and technology policy, and one of the top 27 U.S. think tanks overall.
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 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. ITIF also launched—and spearheads—the Global Trade and Innovation Policy Alliance, an international network of think tanks that conduct evidence-based research into policies that can foster greater trade liberalization, curb “innovation mercantilism,” and encourage governments to play proactive roles in spurring innovation and productivity.
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 to, among other places, Ottawa, Mexico City, London, Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Helsinki, Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, Salzburg, Vienna, Brasilia, Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Beijing, New Delhi, Seoul, and Tokyo.
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:
- The OPEN Government Data Act, signed by President Trump in 2019, reflected the Center for Data Innovation’s call for comprehensive legislation to define the publication of open data as a permanent responsibility of the U.S. government.
- President Trump issued an executive order on artificial intelligence (AI), reflecting the Center’s advocacy for more federal action to support the U.S. AI industry.
- The Connected Government Act, signed into law by President Trump, addressed ITIF’s call to make government websites more mobile friendly, as described in its report, “Benchmarking U.S. Government Websites.”
- The Trump administration revoked India’s and Turkey’s duty-free access to U.S. markets under the Generalized System of Preferences, reflecting an ITIF recommendation for countering innovation mercantilism in developing countries.
- The Consumer Review Fairness Act, signed by President Obama, protected consumers’ right to post critical product reviews online by outlawing frivolous “gag clauses.” ITIF was a leading proponent and testified in the U.S. Senate in support of the legislation.
- The Manufacturing Universities program, included in the 2016 U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, with funding to pilot new approaches to engineering education, reflected ITIF recommendations and advocacy.
- The Revitalizing American Manufacturing Innovation Act, passed in the 2014 omnibus U.S. budget, stemmed from ITIF’s recommendations and advocacy.
- ITIF reports and advocacy efforts helped inspire the creation of the U.S. Energy Department’s Office of Technology Transition, along with a technology commercialization fund.
- The High Court of New Delhi, India, relied heavily on ITIF research when it issued a judgment that created a new mechanism for rightholders to block access to websites involved in large-scale piracy.
- Governments from Singapore to Sweden have developed national innovation strategies based in significant part on a framework ITIF developed and promoted in its book Innovation Economics.
- Several U.S. states, including Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island, also have developed innovation policies based on ITIF proposals.
“ITIF is able to play an important role in developing policy because they work on creative solutions to break through partisan gridlock. We can’t move our country forward unless we work together.”
— U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
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“Innovation and technology aren’t just the lifeblood of today’s economy, but tomorrow’s economy as well. They are the engine that will drive our nation and the world for generations to come. I commend ITIF’s commitment to those core principles.”
— Former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
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“ITIF has been a leader in advocating for policies that will help jumpstart research and development, promote new investment, and encourage innovation. I appreciate ITIF’s role as a national advocate on behalf of our country’s future economic security.”
— U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
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“Technology issues increasingly are at the heart of our most consequential policy debates. ITIF provides the invaluable service of breaking through the confusion to give policymakers high-quality information, analysis, and recommendations we can trust to foster the kind of innovation that will drive economic growth and social progress.”
— U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
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“The information technology revolution remains the key driver of prosperity growth. I am pleased that ITIF has been launched to help develop the kinds of ideas and policy proposals that will ensure America remains the global technology leader.”
— U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)
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“You can always count on ITIF for rigorous analysis of complicated questions. Its conclusions are sensible and sound, because they’re based on hard evidence.”
— Aneesh Chopra, Co-Founder, Hunch Analytics, and Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer
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“I think of ITIF as a go-to resource for expert analysis of issues at the intersection of innovation, technology, and global trade.”
— Demetrios Marantis, Former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative