Spurring innovation: Post readers share their ideas

August 23, 2012

How do you encourage the next great U.S. inventions? Washington Post readers have been weighing in with their pie-in-the-sky ideas and they range from patent reform to following the Soviet model. Here are some of their suggestions:

To think big, we have to start early. Several readers advocated education reform. ScottEdTech pointed out the need to keep schools technologically equipped, promote free thinking and application-based learning. Dtroness suggested putting in a process for “systematic innovation,” something that worked well in the Soviet Union.

Collaboration matters more than competition. According to several readers, the patent system needs to be changed, as do attitudes. “It may seem counter-intuitive, but eliminating the ability of companies to “protect” their so called “intellectual property” will actually promote innovation,” wrote SteveR1. Another commenter, BlueShiftFilm, expressed frustration with the patent system: “As an independent inventor, I struggle to compete with the resources of the multi-nationals. They have teams of patent lawyers on staff, while I have to beg & borrow to pay my one advocate.” Fast-track patents and idea-sharing are more important than establishing who owns what, readers wrote.

Simplify the visa system and work with international partners. “Provide green cards to foreign students earning graduate STEM degrees so they can create jobs in the US, [not] overseas,” wrote John Feinblatt. “Second, create a visa for entrepreneurs – and if their [businesses] succeed, they should get a green card. America cannot afford to wait.”

Provide a platform for ideas. Media coverage, contests and encouragement of start-ups are simple ways to show innovators that their ideas can be heard. “Have a page on your website and in print, in the Washington Post specifically for American innovations,” wrote rexsolomon. “Give them the spotlight. Give them the microphone. Focus on them and ask others to pay attention.”

Do you have other ideas or want to comment on the ones above? Share your thoughts on the Crowdsourced Innovations page.

Amrita Jayakumar covers federal government contracting for Capital Business, The Post's local business publication.
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