Launch of the National Council for Expanding American Innovation
Blog by Andrei Iancu, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO
On September 14, the National Council for Expanding American Innovation had its inaugural meeting, virtually of course. The National Council includes respected leaders in the private and public sectors who are committed to fostering a more inclusive innovation ecosystem. The National Council is charged with helping develop a National Strategy to expand American innovation by tapping into the strength of our nation’s diversity, and increasing innovation opportunities for all Americans. I encourage you to learn more about the initiative by reading the excellent remarks made by the council members or by watching the recording of the event.
The National Council was born out of a report we transmitted to Congress in 2019 in response to the Study of Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science Success (SUCCESS) Act of 2018. This report came on the heels of one of the most comprehensive studies on women inventors that was published by the USPTO in February 2019 titled “Progress and Potential: A profile of Women Inventors on U.S. Patents.” In that study, we found that only about 12 percent of inventors named on U.S. patents are women. The 2020 update to our Progress and Potential study reviewed an additional nearly one million issued patents and three years of new data and found that more women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before. Despite this progress, however, the gap is still wide, and there is still much that remains to be done to close it.
One of the foremost priorities for the National Council is to help the USPTO develop a long-term comprehensive plan aimed at expanding participation in America’s innovation ecosystem among women, minorities, other underrepresented groups, and Americans across the geography of the United States. It is imperative that we substantially broaden participation in the technologies that are driving a new industrial revolution.
This national strategy will encourage and equip Americans across all demographics and across the United States to become innovators and ensure they have equal opportunities to succeed. It will include innovation and intellectual property education at all levels—from kindergarten to graduate school—and emphasize employment development, access to capital, and product commercialization.
Our plan will identify specifically where along a potential inventor’s path we come up short and specifically how we can address it, and will also include metrics against which results can be measured over time. Mere rhetoric will no longer suffice. To move the needle, we must act with specificity, and we must insist on measurable results.
Expanding participation in the innovation ecosystem is one of our nation’s best and most tangible opportunities for enhancing economic growth and improving the standard of living and quality of life for every American. Industry, government, academia, and professional groups must work together to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to innovate, start new companies, succeed in established companies, and achieve the American Dream. This will help unleash the next technological revolution, drive economic growth, and solidify America’s competitive edge as a global innovation leader.
In the upcoming months, the USPTO will have numerous engagement activities that focus on the pursuit of expanding American innovation. We have already enjoyed a number of speaking engagements at universities around the country discussing with students and faculty the importance of diversity in the innovation and intellectual property ecosystems. And in order to consider everyone’s suggestions as part of this strategy, a request for comments was published in the Federal Register asking the public to provide input to assist in the development of the national strategy. Comments can be submitted until February 8, 2021.
To more broadly engage with the public on our Expanding American Innovation initiative, we also kicked off a series of virtual “innovation chats.” The first one is a recently-recorded conversation between myself and Lisa Jorgenson, the newly appointed Deputy Director General for Patents and Technology at the World Intellectual Property Organization. You can view the video here. For more information about the National Council for Expanding American Innovation, please contact NCEAI@uspto.gov, and join the conversation on social media using #ExpandingAmericanInnovation.