How to protect America’s innovation edge against foreign threats | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

The history of America is a history of innovation. The people invented many of the tools that are staples of our households. From transportation to the internet, people in the United States have been at the forefront of technological change. In fact, U.S. technology serves as the very backbone of our national security, economic prosperity, and fundamental freedoms.

But America’s global leadership position in innovation is in jeopardy. Authoritarian countries such as China are determined to take the lead by stealing $500 billion in technology annually from the U.S. and investing heavily in a series of five-year plans to slice into our innovation edge. Meanwhile, Russia is not only an active threat to democracies across the globe, its cyberattacks
U.S. businesses hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Yet instead of working together on bold investments to preserve America’s technological lead, some in Congress are pushing legislation that would slow the pace of innovation, make it more difficult for U.S. companies to compete in international markets, and threaten small businesses and vulnerable communities that have used the internet to thrive.

The public agrees that the threat to our leadership in innovation is real. More than 60% of voters believe that “Chinese companies will surpass American companies as the world’s technology leaders if we don’t do something soon,” a recent
found. In addition, 81% of voters agree that “it is dangerous for the U.S. to fall behind countries like China, Russia, and Iran when it comes to technology.” As President Joe Biden recently
, “China, before the year 2035, is going to own America because autocracies can make quick decisions.”

In response to this growing competitive dynamic, the American Edge Project partnered with a diverse set of stakeholder organizations to develop an economic policy agenda to put America on a path to maintain its leadership position in innovation.

This agenda is rooted in three pillars. First, we should strengthen leadership in innovation policy. Second, we should promote dynamism in the tech sector to strengthen the startup ecosystem. Third, we should share the benefits of the innovation economy more broadly across our society.

Importantly, each of these three pillars will bring benefits to U.S. businesses, especially small businesses, and increase opportunities for minorities, women, veterans, and underserved communities in urban and rural areas. Technology has already played an important role in breaking down barriers and making it easier for people who have historically been disempowered to connect, share, and grow their businesses.

But we need to do more. We should establish public-private funds to invest in small-business innovation in minority communities. We should incentivize additional spending on innovation through tax credits and direct investments, focusing particularly on startups led by women, veterans, and minorities. We should ensure that startups and small businesses can access new capital by avoiding unnecessary restrictions on mergers — most startups depend on the possibility of acquisition in order to secure the funding that enables them to grow and create local jobs.

We also recommend investment in new innovation hubs across America, which will ensure the benefits of the innovation economy do not simply accumulate on the coasts. Certainly, coastal cities such as San Francisco, Boston, and New York have long been innovation areas, but startups are now quickly growing in hundreds of communities. A recent report by the Brookings Institution
that the pandemic has resulted in a spread of technology jobs in more cities across America. Policymakers should incentivize this innovation, not hamstring it.

Policymakers should also make closing the digital divide a cornerstone of future innovation policy, focusing on digital equity and inclusion. This means promoting broadband access for rural communities and affordability for urban communities, as well as deploying tailored solutions for bringing more people online across America. As we have learned during the pandemic, closing the digital divide is more important than ever.

We also recommend policymakers reduce regulatory
to telework, telehealth, and online education, making it possible for more people to benefit from online service delivery, for more families to balance work and family responsibilities, and for tech expertise and resources to spread to communities throughout America.

America must fortify and strengthen its innovation edge. To do so, lawmakers need to turn away from proposals that will damage our innovation ecosystems, handicap our most successful companies, make it harder for startups, and advantage our foreign adversaries. Instead, we should enact policies that strengthen America’s leadership position, promote startup dynamism, and share the benefits of the innovation economy. We have a long bipartisan history of supporting and driving innovation. Now is the time to double down on those policies that made America the world’s technology leader.

Susana Martinez was governor of New Mexico from 2011 to 2019. Kent Conrad represented North Dakota in the Senate from 1992 to 2013. And Saxby Chambliss represented Georgia in the Senate from 2003 to 2015. Martinez, Conrad, and Chambliss serve as advisers to the American Edge Project.

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