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Closing the Innovation Deficit: Some Progress but Much More Needed

Close the Innovation Deficit

One year after they launched a campaign to urge the US Congress and the President to close the nation’s innovation deficit, a group of prominent higher education, scientific, and business organizations, including the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), today renewed their call for increased federal investments in research to build a strong long-term economy, improve medical treatments, and strengthen national security. As Congress prepares to break for its August recess, leaving key FY 2015 funding decisions to be addressed in September, leaders from those organizations today are conducting a coordinated nationwide effort to communicate the need to close the innovation deficit.

To help make the case, the organizations unveiled an animated cartoon featuring Uncle Sam who happily stands under an illuminated “INNOVATION” sign, representing what happens when the federal government invests in scientific research. However, Uncle Sam quickly becomes dismayed when funding from Congress slows and he is left standing under a sign that just says “NO.”

Other tools on the http://www.innovationdeficit.org/ website include an animated video, an infographic, and a number of charts, graphs, and other materials explaining the innovation deficit and the threat it poses to the nation’s economic future.

“Cuts to federal investments in research can impede innovation and negatively impact our country’s economy, education, health, and security. Following the launch of the Close the Innovation Deficit campaign one year ago today, Congress and the President have taken steps toward prioritizing research but we need them to run—not walk—this race on our behalf,” said Carol Pitts Diedrichs, ARL president.

The innovation deficit is the widening gap between actual and needed federal investments in research at a time when other nations such as China, India, and Singapore are dramatically boosting research funding to develop the next great technological and medical breakthroughs to power their economies forward.

The campaign began one year ago today with an open letter to the President and Congress, signed by more than 200 university presidents and chancellors, that described the innovation deficit and called on leaders to close it with investments in research and higher education.

Organizations leading the Close the Innovation Deficit effort said today that their members would be speaking to members of Congress in their districts and on Capitol Hill in the coming weeks. The organizations will urge lawmakers to place a high priority on investments in research in the FY 2015 appropriations process and, over the longer term, eliminate sequestration and deal with entitlements and tax reform to make possible the increased investments needed to close the innovation deficit.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.