PCAST’s Report a Good Start, but Misunderstands Industrial vs. Innovation Policy

Stephen Ezell July 18, 2011
July 18, 2011

We must be unabashed that governments—including the United States—play a vital and appropriate role in making investments in strategic and emerging advanced technologies and sectors and helping transfer that technology to the private marketplace with the explicit intent and purpose of driving U.S. economic growth. To do so is not the derided so-called industrial policy, but is in fact a component of effective innovation policy. Industrial policy entails a government picking specific firms or technologies, whereas innovation policy refers to governments making strategic investments in and supporting key broad technologies and/or industries. If the United States is to win in the intense race for global innovation advantage, it has to move beyond only supporting factor conditions to supporting key technologies and industries.