Robert D. Atkinson

Robert D. Atkinson
President
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation
Phone: 
202-449-1351

As founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Robert D. Atkinson leads a prolific team of policy analysts and fellows that is successfully shaping the debate and setting the agenda on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy.

He is an internationally recognized scholar and a 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.”

A sought-after speaker and valued adviser to policymakers around the world, Atkinson’s books include Innovation Economics: The Race for Global Advantage (Yale, 2012), Supply-Side Follies: Why Conservative Economics Fails, Liberal Economics Falters, and Innovation Economics is the Answer (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), and The Past And Future Of America’s Economy: Long Waves Of Innovation That Power Cycles Of Growth (Edward Elgar, 2005). He also has conducted groundbreaking research projects and authored hundreds of articles and reports on technology and innovation-related topics ranging from tax policy to advanced manufacturing, productivity, and global competitiveness.

President Clinton appointed Atkinson to the Commission on Workers, Communities, and Economic Change in the New Economy; the Bush administration appointed him chair of the congressionally created National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission; and the Obama administration appointed him to the National Innovation and Competitiveness Strategy Advisory Board. He now serves as co-chair of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s China-U.S. Innovation Policy Experts Group and as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Atkinson is a member of the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age and serves on the boards or advisory councils of the Internet Education Foundation, the NetChoice Coalition, the University of Oregon’s Institute for Policy Research and Innovation, and the State Science and Technology Institute. Additionally, Atkinson is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Electronic Government and the Journal of Internet Policy; a member of the Global Innovation Forum Brain Trust; a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; a fellow at the Columbia University Institute of Tele-Information; and a fellow of Glocom, a Tokyo-based research institute.

Atkinson was previously vice president of the Progressive Policy Institute, where he directed the Technology & New Economy Project. He wrote numerous research reports on technology and innovation policy, covering issues such as broadband telecommunications, e-commerce, e-government, privacy, copyright, R&D tax policy, offshoring, and innovation economics.

Previously, Atkinson served as the first executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council (RIEPC), a public-private partnership whose members included the state’s governor, legislative leaders, and both corporate and labor leaders. As head of RIEPC, Atkinson was responsible for drafting a comprehensive economic development strategy for the state and working with the legislature and executive branch of government to successfully implement each element of a 10-point action agenda.

Prior to his service in Rhode Island, Atkinson was a project director at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, where, among other projects, he spearheaded The Technological Reshaping of Metropolitan America, a seminal report examining the impact of the information technology revolution on America’s urban areas.

As a respected policy expert and commentator, Atkinson has testified numerous times before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and he appears frequently on news and public affairs programs. Among others, these appearances have included interviews on BBC, CNBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NPR, and NBC Nightly News.

Atkinson holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he was awarded the prestigious Joseph E. Pogue Fellowship. He earned his master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Oregon, which named him a distinguished alumnus in 2014.

Recent Events

February 24, 2016

Innovation is a vital resource for the economy and society. But who are America’s innovators? Who is creating the kinds of new technologies and products that improve productivity and fuel growth?

February 4, 2016

ITIF will host a discussion with FTC Commissioner Julie Brill on Thursday, February 4, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. EST, to explore this new agreement, weigh the reactions of privacy regulators on both sides, and delve into challenges still ahead for Europe and the U.S. to promote transatlantic data flows.

January 21, 2016

From sensor-laden assembly lines that reduce downtime and improve quality control to factory floors networked to automatically respond to environmental conditions in real time, the Internet of Thin

January 20, 2016

Please join ITIF as it releases a seminal new report ranking 56 nations on the extent to which their policies either contribute to or detract from global innovation. The event also will discuss what countries, individually and collectively, need to do to enact innovation-based growth policies that move toward a more effective global innovation system that maximizes commonly shared global prosperity and positions humanity to better deal with grand challenges.

December 16, 2015

Join ITIF's Center for Data Innovation for a panel discussion and release of a new report examining why a comprehensive national strategy that addresses the numerous obstacles facing the Internet of Things is necessary to ensure the United States can successfully secure the benefits of this promising technology.

Recent Publications

April 28, 2016

High-performance computing is a strategic resource for economic competitiveness, scientific leadership, and national security. To remain a leader in the field, the United States must commit to sustaining a robust ecosystem for the technology.

April 25, 2016

By pushing for a financial data carve-out in the TPP, the United States has undermined its own interests and sent a dangerous message that may encourage countries to enact more protectionist data policies.

April 14, 2016

As the global Internet economy evolves and becomes more interconnected, cross-border policy tensions are rising, as is the need to resolve these tensions and conflicts in ways that continue to spur growth and innovation writes Rob Atkinson in Innovation Files.

April 14, 2016

Washington policy elites need to get beyond thinking of the trade debate as one of unrestrained global trade versus stubborn protectionism, writes Rob Atkinson in the Christian Science Monitor.

April 12, 2016

Rob Atkinson and Nigel Cory argue in Innovation Files that while the business model for the distribution of scholarly journals obviously needs reform, this does not excuse the use or defense of piracy.

April 6, 2016

Rob Atkinson outlines five of the most common myths about America’s system for discovering and developing new drugs on the Huffington Post.

Recent Presentations

October 13, 2015

Rob Atkinson presented at Engaged Citizens: Digital Government Showcase & Discussion that took place in Salt Lake City, Utah as a part of the 2015 NASCIO Annual Conference.

May 7, 2015

Rob Atkinson presented at the Arizona Association for Economic Development 2015 Spring Conference.

March 26, 2015

Rob Atkinson will present at "Privacy & Innovation in the Age of the Internet of Things" at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center.

January 26, 2015

Rob Atkinson and Stephen Ezell presented the Indian Economy at a Crossroads report in New Delhi.

November 13, 2014

Rob Atkinson discussed the impact of ICT growth at the "Building Blocks of the Ubiquitous Digital Single Market" event.

October 30, 2014

Rob Atkinson presented on "How the Cloud Can Drive Economic Growth" to Canada’s Digital Policy Forum.

Testimonials

Rob Atkinson, “has a unique and enviable capacity to communicate cutting-edge analysis of emerging and effective economic development practices.  In that, he made high level concepts very accessible and relevant to those in the front line of growing jobs and the economy.  We consider ourselves to be very fortunate you were able to share your voice, vision, wisdom, and experience with our regional leaders.”

- Jim Prosser Executive Director, Centralina Council of Governments 

Dr. Robert D. Atkinson was an excellent addition as an international keynote speaker at the Innovation Day, hosted by the Portuguese Industrial Association (AIP) in Lisbon. Dr. Atkinson’s presentation on lessons from the U.S. innovation system was insightful and engaging. His encouraging perspective on innovation and its potential role in the Portugal context during a moderated discussion was thought provoking for the audience. Dr. Atkinson is an excellent speaker and a pleasure to collaborate with.

- Augusto Medina President, Sociedade Portuguesa de Inovacao S.A.