Archive for the ‘Cyber Security’ Category

Two Important Reports from the NVCA: VC Fundraising Declines 53% in Q3 2011 and U.S. Medical Innovation is in Crisis

medical innovation image 1 Kelly Slone, director of the Medical Industry Group of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) posted an important article on October 7 on the NVCAccess blog, clearly calling out that the unintended consequences of FDA regulations have precipitated a full-blown crisis in medical innovation in the U.S. This crisis has already damaged America’s global competitiveness and slowed medical innovation in the U.S.  The report “revealed that US venture capitalists are reducing their investment in biotechnology and medical device companies and shifting focus overseas to Europe and Asia, primarily due to regulatory obstacles at the Food and Drug Administration.”

In related news, Mark Heesen, NVCA President, announced today that U.S. venture capital funds raised a total of  $1.7 billion, a 53 percent decrease in dollars from the third quarter of 2010 and the lowest amount since the third quarter of 2003.  Heesen observed in his blog post what he expects will become apparent when Q3 2011 VC investment statistics are released next week : “you can bet the total dollars invested into start-up companies will be a multiple of the amount raised.  It has been this way since 2008 when the industry began investing more than it was raising.  In fact, by the end of this quarter, the venture industry will have invested at least $20 billion more than it has raised in the last 3+ years.And just like a bubble, this imbalance is not sustainable.  Unless the industry begins to raise more money, we can expect investment levels to decline in the coming years in a significant way.”popped balloon

You can download the full report: Vital Signs: The Threat to Investment in U.S. Medical Innovation and the Imperative of FDA Reform, from the NVCAccess blog.

Some key conclusions from the report follow:

U.S. venture capitalists have been and will continue to:
• Decrease their investment in biotechnology and medical device start-ups
• Reduce their concentration in critical therapeutic areas, and
• Shift focus away from the United States towards Europe and Asia
FDA regulatory challenges were identified as having the highest impact on these investment decisions.
We must act now or lose our leadership position in medical innovation, job creation and access to life-saving treatments in the United States. If the current situation is left unaddressed, the implications to U.S. patients and the economy are significant:
• Many promising medical therapies and technologies will not be funded and therefore will not reach the patients that need them.
• Those that are funded may not be brought to market in the United States first, or at all.
• An estimated funding loss of half a billion dollars over the next three years will cost America jobs at a time when we desperately need employment growth.
• The U.S. leadership position in medical innovation will be placed in further danger and economic growth with suffer.

For more factual background on the decades of neglect that have led us to where we are today, you may find the following links to presentation slides useful:

America’s Slipping Global Competitiveness– Implications for the Next Generation of American Emerging Growth Companies, keynote speech remarks delivered by Pascal Levensohn at ICAP Ocean Tomo conference, March 24, 2010, San Francisco

American Innovation in Crisis,Cybersecurity Applications and Technologies Conference for Homeland Security (CATCH) Conference, Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C. Keynote Speech by Pascal Levensohn, March 4, 2009

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Update on America’s Slipping Global Competitiveness– Implications for Intellectual Property Development of Senate Bill 515

ot_logoThis morning I gave the keynote speech at the ICAP Ocean Tomo IP auction in San Francisco.  My remarks explained the relationship between the long-term decline in America’s global competitiveness, the impact of the capital markets crisis on new investment in research and development, and specifically addressed Senate Bill 515, the pending U.S. legislation that will transform the U.S. patent system and broadly impact intellectual property rights in our country.  Some excerpts follow, and you can download the entire speech and slides by clicking at the bottom of this post:

“The absence of cohesion in American public policy can be seen in many areas—with cybersecurity coming immediately to mind.  Mike McConnell, former director of the National Security Agency, recently wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post on why the U.S. is losing the cyber war, commenting that “The problem is not one of resources; even in our current fiscal straits, we can afford to upgrade our defenses. The problem is that we lack a cohesive strategy to meet this challenge.

This lack of cohesiveness comes from short-term thinking that has become prevalent in many aspects of American society.   The notion that “posterity doesn’t matter” has unfortunately taken root in our country, and this has led to fragmented approaches to public policy solutions across the board, corroded leadership among our elected representatives, and contributed to an entitlement culture and a lack of accountability that permeate much of American society.”

“The key obstacle to moving [patent] reform forward continues to be disagreement between several large high-tech companies, namely the group of Cisco, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and Intel, on the one hand, and life sciences organizations such as PhRma, BIO, MDMA, AdvaMed, Universities, several union groups, the NVCA, and others, on the other hand, over the idea of creating a new post-grant review procedure within the PTO and over the proposal on apportionment of damages in infringement cases.

As we consider the broad implications of this polarizing issue, we must first step back and remember that inventors and investors devote time, energy and risk capital to innovate new products and technologies.  Since the drafting of our country’s Constitution and even well prior to the establishment of the United States, it was understood that the greater good was served with a patent system that encourages this type of risk taking by protecting inventions resulting from innovation.  It is also understood, though in our country it appears to have been forgotten, that innovation, and job creation, come not just from large, well-funded enterprises, but in large part result from the efforts of small companies and individuals laboring to make a better mouse trap.

The core principles underlying the patent system have not changed.  We need to encourage and reward those that take risk to innovate new products, services and technologies.  Unfortunately, the patent system that served us so well for so long is under assault.  The cost of filing patents has increased dramatically.  The cost of enforcing patents has gone through the roof.  Injunctions have been taken away except for cases of head-to-head competition in the patented item.  Patents are now easier to invalidate after-the-fact.  A patent holder can no longer offer his/her patents for license without putting himself/herself at risk of litigation that he/she may not be able to afford.  Innovation involving patents has become a rich-man’s game, with an increasingly uncertain chance of return.

At a high level, we need to understand that anything that changes our patent system creates winners and losers.  In general, changes that weaken the patent system hurt inventors and innovators, while benefiting large companies with established market positions (e.g., monopolists) and low cost producers (e.g., offshore companies with lower labor costs, fixed currencies and weaker environmental standards).

Some argue for changes in the patent system based on a claim that non-practicing entities, often pejoratively called trolls, have too much power.  Some extraordinary examples, such as NTP seeking an injunction that would shut down Congress’ use of Blackberrys and some high dollar jury awards and settlements, have been cited by some as sufficient reason to argue for a radical restructuring of the way that patents are filed, challenged and enforced in court.

We need balance in this process, as changes may have the unintended affect of hurting those that we need now more than ever – inventors, entrepreneurs and investors that will innovate and create jobs here in the U.S.”

For a full transcript of the speech, including the slides, CLICK HERE.

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A Wake-Up Call for America– Free Webcast Discusses Systemic Market Failure in U.S. Equities and Formal Release of New Grant Thornton Study, November 9th 12:30 PM EST

Join Grant Thornton for a free Webcast on A Wake-Up Call for America, the greatly anticipated study demonstrating how market structure changes over the past 10 years have had a profound negative effect on the number of publicly listed companies in the United States – ultimately inhibiting economic recovery, worsening the job market and undermining U.S. competitiveness.

wake-up-america_civilizationcalls
Date: Monday, November 9, 2009

Time: 12:30-2:00 EST

Note: Register now,  Company pass code – 710004, Course code – 11738


The Webcast will feature a lively discussion among the study’s contributors and other industry-leading capital markets executives, and will include an in-depth look at the steep decline in U.S. listings, the macroeconomic implications, and recommendations for attainable solutions. A Q&A session will conclude the event, and all participants will receive a copy of the study.

Participants include:

  • David Weild – Former vice-chairman and executive vice president of the NASDAQ Stock Market, and current Senior Advisor at Grant Thornton LLP and founder of Capital Markets Advisory Partners.
  • Edward Kim – Former head of product development at the NASDAQ Stock Market, and current Senior Advisor at Grant Thornton LLP and Managing Director of Capital Markets Advisory Partners.
  • Pascal Levensohn – Founder and Managing Partner of Levensohn Venture Partners, and Director of the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), where he is chairman of the education committee.
  • Barry Silbert – Founder and CEO of SecondMarket, the largest marketplace for illiquid securities.  SecondMarket was named the top start-up in the entire Northeast by AlwaysOn Media and one of the Top Fifty Startups You Should Know by Businessweek.

Space is limited. Register today. <http://university.learnlivetech.com/gtt>

Follow the steps below to register. You will receive an email confirmation with instructions for attending the Webcast. If you need assistance with registering, please call 206.812.4700.

  • Go to http://university.learnlivetech.com/gtt and choose “New Student Registration” to create your account, then enter company pass code 710004.
  • If you have attended a Grant Thornton Webcast within the past year, simply log in to your account.

Locate the Webcast in the catalog and sign up for A Wake-up Call for America, course number 11738.

Keynote Speech at the Global Security Challenge, Chicago, September 22

imagesI will be the keynote speaker at the America Midwest Regional Final competition of the Global Security Challenge (GSC) on September 22nd in Chicago.  This event is part of a global competition to deliver innovative solutions to pressing cybersecurity problems.  The GSC Security Summit 2009, which will be held November 13 in London, will see the culmination of the six regional finals held around the world in September and October.  The Summit will include the final pitches from each regional finalist in the SME and Start-up categories, as well as the ‘Dragon’s Den’ style closed-door Q&A with the expert Judging Committees. The award categories are:

  • Best Security SME
  • Most Promising Security Start-up
  • Most Promising Security Idea

Top contenders from previous Global Security Challenge competitions have subsequently raised over $55 million in new capital.  The current open competition is for the “Most Promising Security Idea”:

The GSC committee recognizes that there are many potentially disruptive innovations that have yet to reach commercialization. Through the Most Promising Security Idea category, the GSC encourages innovators to continue to pursue their ideas and efforts. The award is designed to support and promote researchers, infant companies (with no revenue), and any other inventors who just have an idea for a security solution.

The winners of this category will receive:

  • $10,000 cash grant, sponsored by Accenture.
  • Mentorship from Mark Shaheen, managing director of Civitas Group.
  • Unparalleled networking opportunity with government officials and industry leaders.
  • Invaluable publicity.
  • Examples of our areas of interest are (but are not limited to): biometrics, detection sensors, cyber security, video surveillance, RFID, personnel protection, encryption software, data-mining, biotechnologies, and explosive trace detection. Who can Apply?: Eligible entrants must be a company, or one or more individuals, whose idea did not generate revenue in 2008.Deadline for Submissions: September 1, 2009 at 11.59 GMT.

For more information on the GSC CLICK HERE.  I am proud to be involved with this competition as it represents the type of innovation challenge that drives entrepreneurs to develop breakthrough ideas into real companies.

Reversing Unintended Consequences From Regulation is Critical to Restoring Small Company IPO’s

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I liked the Friday, August 7 Wall Street Journal editorial, Washington vs. Silicon Valley, but it does not go far enough.  In Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, and other innovation centers across the country, entrepreneurs and their backers (who are not limited to venture capitalists) are all keenly aware that Washington’s addiction to enacting hasty, one-size-fits–all financial regulation will continue to have far-reaching unintended negative consequences for the U.S. economy:

“… Sarbanes-Oxley compliance costs, Eliot-Spitzer’s stock analyst settlement and the economic downturn have created an historic drought in venture-backed companies going public.  . . .  It boggles the mind that Washington would enact new policies sure to prolong this (IPO) drought and strike at the heart of American innovation.” (from the WSJ editorial)

The U.S. IPO drought testifies to a systemic liquidity crisis for emerging growth companies that is putting at risk an entire generation of innovative American companies.  IPO’s are essential to job growth in America and to maintaining a balanced innovation ecosystem for two important reasons.  First, the National Venture Capital Association has published data revealing that over 90% of the jobs created by venture-backed companies occur AFTER they go public—and this relationship holds over the past 40 years.  Second, emerging growth companies lose negotiating leverage in acquisitions when they have no other viable liquidity alternatives.  Between 2001 and 2008 mergers and acquisitions (M&A) accounted for 87% of venture-backed company exits, up from an average of 44% in between 1992 and 2000.

Large corporations are generally not known for being innovative and even less for creating new jobs after acquiring other companies (merger “synergy” is code for firing people). In the current liquidity starved environment, some acquirers are able to drive draconian acquisition terms, including features such as two-year contingent calls on up to 100% the cash proceeds to selling investors.

Venture capital partnerships are typically ten-year partnerships with historically proven expectations that significant liquidity will be delivered from successful partnerships to investors by year 6. The median age of a venture-backed company at the time of its IPO has increased from 4.5 years in 1998 to 9.6 years as of year-end 2008.  The median company age at the time of an M&A exit has increased from 3 years to 6.5 years over the same time frame.

What makes this combination untenable is that the IPO drought, combined with lengthy “tails” on lower-value merger payouts, pushes liquidity out much closer to the end of life of the partnerships themselves, making it impossible for investors to re-cycle their prior risk capital to fund the next generation of innovative companies based on previously valid asset allocation models.  The massive institutional investor losses incurred from investments in asset classes unrelated to venture capital due to the global financial crisis have only fanned the wildfire fire burning in the American innovation forest.

We must solve the IPO problem, and a review of historic IPO data pre-technology bubble suggests that we need to achieve an average of 130 IPO’s per year to restore equilibrium to the venture-backed company liquidity cycle.   While Sarbanes Oxley compliance costs and the stock analyst settlement are part of the problem, the root causes include the decimalization of stock trading commissions and the death of the sub $50 million IPO.

Investors take risk in order to reap rewards.  Washington needs to recognize, first and foremost, that entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, institutional investors, market markers, and underwriters all seek to be rewarded for committing risk capital (which includes sweat equity) to making these highly risky ventures successful.  If the upside is taken away by regulations that make the risk/reward equation unattractive, risk capital and entrepreneurs will leave the U.S.  That exodus has already begun, and it is evident in many statistics that testify to America’s slipping global competitiveness since 1999.

Sadly, risk aversion is the order of the day in Washington at a time when we need risk takers to lead America to a new cycle of sustainable economic growth through new job creation.  It’s past time for our policymakers to unwind the unintended consequences of a decade of ill-conceived securities regulations that have already weakened our innovation ecosystem.  Let’s start by advocating policies that will bring risk-taking entrepreneurs and technology innovators back to the table before the American cupboard is bare.

Setbacks in White House and DHS Organizational Responses to Securing Critical Infrastructure—a Troubling Trend?

images-3Organizational challenges and governance questions appear to be gaining the upper hand in faltering efforts by the White House and DHS to address America’s cybersecurity.  Last week two respected leaders in the cybersecurity realm, Melissa Hathaway of the White House and Mischel Kwon of the Department of Homeland Security Computer Emergency Response Team (DHS CERT), announced their resignations.

Below I quote from reports by the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post:

From the WSJ’s Siobhan Gordon on Melissa Hathaway, reported on August 4, 2009:

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The White House’s acting cybersecurity czar announced her resignation Monday, in a setback to the Obama administration’s    efforts to better protect the computer networks critical to national security and the global economy. The resignation of Melissa Hathaway, Barack Obama’s choice to monitor the nation’s online security, is a blow for the administration, which had made the position a priority. The resignation highlights the difficulty the White House has had following through on its cybersecurity effort.  In February, the White House tapped Ms. Hathaway, a senior intelligence official who had launched President George W. Bush’s cybersecurity initiative, to lead a 60-day cybersecurity policy review. Ms. Hathaway completed her review in April, but the White House spent another 60 days debating the wording of her report and how to structure the White House cyber post.  National Economic Adviser Larry Summers argued forcefully that his team should have a say in the work of the new cyber official.  The result was a cybersecurity official who would report both to the National Security Council and the National Economic Council. Supporters said that arrangement would cement cybersecurity as a critical security and economic issue; detractors said it would require the new official to please too many masters and would accomplish little.  “It’s almost like the system has become paralyzed,” said Tom Kellermann, a former World Bank cybersecurity official who served on a commission whose work influenced the White House’s cyber planning.

From the Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima, reported on August 8, 2009:

images-1Mischel Kwon, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, submitted her resignation letter this week. … Kwon, who is the fourth US-CERT director in five years, was frustrated by bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of authority to fulfill her mission, according to colleagues who spoke on the condition of anonymity.  In March, another Homeland Security cybersecurity official, Rod Beckstrom, resigned, citing a lack of support inside the agency and what he described as a power grab by the National Security Agency.  The resignations, although unrelated, point to a larger inability of the federal government to hire, retain and effectively utilize qualified personnel, experts said.

[Note: Beckstrom has recently become the CEO of ICANN]

While these resignations do send a message, we must be equally concerned about positions that get less daily press but are equally critical because they deal with the details of policy implementation.   In my view, the fact that we are now seeing departures from people who are in critical execution positions raises a red flag, particularly because it appears that organizational dysfunction and lack of coordinated leadership are at the root of these departures.  From government’s perspective, the cybersecurity problem is difficult to address effectively because it is widespread, new, and amorphous relative to other types of criminal activity (for example, a bank robbery by an armed gunman).  It also crosses many disciplines and therefore touches multiple competing government bureaucracies.

Our nation’s policy leaders need support from empowered lieutenants to execute on policy. As a nation, we cannot afford to take our collective eye off the ball as we address the challenges faced by the U.S. economy, the U.S. capital markets, and America’s cybersecurity.  President Obama’s ambitious agenda will stand or fall on the ability of people to implement the Vision.  While critics are quick to seize upon the Administration’s mis-steps, whether you support the Administration or not, we should all be very concerned when we see highly respected domain experts voting with their feet.

The vast scope of the cybersecurity challenge and the urgency with which we must address it present us with opportunities to contribute at many levels. Let’s not stand down but rather rise up to meet this challenge head on, even if we must do so incrementally.

Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital– America Depends on Entrepreneurs While Current Public Policy Assaults Them

Images On June 25th I moderated a panel on the implications of America’s
Innovation Crisis for Cybersecurity at the National Press Club in
Washington, D.C.  The full transcript of the slides integrated with my
prepared remarks is now posted at www.levp.com .  This event was sponsored by the non-profit Security Innovation Network.

At the end of the panel I asked each of the panelists, Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital, Professor Randy Katz of Berkeley, and Dave Robbins of BigFix, to answer the following question:

“In closing, I would like each of our panelists to comment on the most
important change that they would like to see implemented in order to
promote the protection of our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Bob Ackerman’s answer follows:

“The solution to the critical needs of our country  – whether it is in reinventing our economy or the innovation that is essential to protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure – will depend on the creativity and drive of entrepreneurs. At precisely the same time that political leaders are calling for expanded innovation to meet our national needs, there appears to be an almost all out assault on entrepreneurship in America – by deed if not by word.  Capital and talent are the two most valued and at the same time portable assets in the global economy.  For more than three decades, the United States was the destination for the best and brightest minds from around the world.  In the US, brilliant entrepreneurial risk takers found the resources they required to implement their dreams and an environment that rewarded those that took the risks associated with innovation – and succeeded.  Today, we are making it increasingly difficult for the best and brightest to come the US and stay to contribute to our economy. For those that are here, we are increasing the regulatory hurdles associated with building successful businesses while increasing the taxes associated investments make in long term innovation.  Stock options – once the great wealth builder for employees in start-up companies – have had much of their value striped by regulatory changes.  When combined with the current political overtones that suggest people who have achieved wealth must have somehow “cheated”  – we have created an environment where the risk/reward associated with high risk entrepreneurial innovation is seriously out of balance.  At precisely the same time where we are more dependent than ever on an innovation-driven economy and our competitors have borrowed our historical playbook – we are effectively erecting barriers to innovation in America.”

How should we respond?  We need to attract and retain the talent and capital necessary to fuel the engine of innovation.  We need to attract capital and encourage focused, systematic innovation through modifications in our tax code.  Lower tax rates for long term innovation is an excellent place to start.  We need to rethink our approach to regulation with a more constructive understanding of the levels of risk associated with (and appropriate regulation) companies as they grow and prosper.  A successful start-up company and a multi-billion dollar global player should not be subjected to the same level of regulatory oversight – in most cases. Further, our immigration policies need to focus on encouraging the world’s best and brightest to come to the United States, benefit from our educational system and remain here to contribute to our economy.  Today, our policy in this area can almost be described as “Here’s your PhD. – now go home!”.  Rest assured – the capital will follow the talent.

In parallel with the above, we need to take concrete steps to encourage companies to grow in the U.S.  This is a combination of the steps I have previously mentioned while making it easier for young companies to go public – tapping the capital they need to continue growing and adding high paying jobs to our economy.  Regulatory reform can address some of these issues but the venture industry also needs to take responsibility for re-invigorating the investment banking environment upon which a vibrant IPO market is dependent. This is an area where experience will matter.  For example, venture professionals who have lived successfully through these challenges in the past – have an invaluable historical perspective that can contribute to this revitalization.  Unfortunately, many have left or are leaving the industry.  Why – it’s become harder and harder to be successful while the rewards are being diminished.  They either retire – or they follow the entrepreneurs who are voting with their feet and talent and moving to greener pastures – in other countries.

Dave Robbins– BigFix CEO, on Top Priorities for Protecting U.S. Critical Infrastructure

Last Thursday I moderated a panel on the implications of America’s Innovation Crisis for Cybersecurity at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  The full transcript of the slides integrated with my prepared remarks is now posted at www.levp.com .  This event was sponsored by the non-profit Security Innovation Network.

logo_subAt the end of the panel I asked each of the panelists, Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital, Professor Randy Katz of Berkeley, and Dave Robbins of BigFix, to answer the following question:

“In closing, I would like each of our panelists to comment on the most important change that they would like to see implemented in order to promote the protection of our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Dave Robbins’ answer follows:

First, I would like to see all federal IT groups focus on building a stronger foundation within their core network.  Often, an IT organization gets caught up in the purchase and implementation of a myriad of tools that don’t really solve key and basic problems.  In order to be more secure, you have to have better real time situational awareness: how many assets do we have; where are the assets located; where in the world are those assets now; what applications are running on the asset; what non-approved applications are on the asset; what is the patch level; is AV running.  Secure your core configuration and the rest of the task of security becomes much easier.

Second, make the entire process of selling to the U.S. government easier.  I find it sad and ironic that it is easier to sell governments throughout the world compared to my own. Far too many complicated buying processes and far to many acronyms and archaic terms (skivvy-skree is actually patch management!?!) create an impenetrable wall between young innovative companies and selling to the government.   Dealing direct with the government would make it easier instead of being forced to work through resellers and integrators that have little real knowledge of what makes an innovative company special.

You have to remember, if you want access to new innovative technology, you must find ways to work with smaller companies. Large companies don’t innovate, they increment, which is the antithesis of innovation.   Patents don’t equal innovation…products equal innovation.

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Bridging the Gaps– A SINET Brief

logo_subToday’s Security Innovation Network (SINET) event drew 300 people to the standing-room-only main ballroom at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  CNN filmed the entire event, and we will keep all interested parties informed as to when the video of the three panel sessions will be available.

img_signet_panel2The content was very powerful, and many eyes were opened to the interconnected nature of the crisis in America’s innovation ecosystem and the negative implications for cybersecurity. As one questioner said, “when are you going to stop talking about the problem and start taking actions, and what are you going to do?”

The question was meant more constructively than it reads on paper, and the answer is, “hopefully, a lot, but we need influential change agents to volunteer to get involved with the SINET to get things done.”  Much more to follow…

Thoughts on Innovation and Competitiveness– From Aeschylus to (Norman) Augustine

0309112230 In 2007 the National Academies published an important essay by Norman Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin and a deep thinker on America's slipping global competitiveness, titled "Is America Falling Off the Flat Earth?".  This brief monograph is required reading for anyone seeking facts about how America's global competitiveness is declining– as well as clear recommendations for the way forward.  Mr. Augustine touches on the declines in education, in business, in technology, and he diagnoses the self-inflicted nature of a society's successful development that leads in this direction. At its core, this essay is a passionate  appeal for coordinated national action to catalyze a multi-disciplinary program designed to win in a radically new global playing field.

What Mr. Augustine refers to as the competitiveness ecosystem includes the innovation ecosystem.  It is clear today that the global financial crisis which began in early 2008 has only accelerated the negatives, both by catalyzing further spending cuts in critical areas of long-term research and by worsening the odds that our government will recognize the immediacy of the need for the allocation of critical financial resources to get America's innovation train back on track.

A couple of my favorite quotes from the essay follow:

Perhaps the most incisive summary to be found, as far as the nation's competitiveness ecosystem is concerned, comes from the 2,500 year-old writings of Aeschylus:

So in the Libyan fable it is toldImages
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Said, when he saw the fasion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not by others' hands,
Are we now smitten".

 

In America, we are to a considerable degree living off past investments, the comparatively strong position the nation held at the end of World War II, and the prevalence of English as the predominant language of business, government, and technical education.  But the impact of those discriminators appears to be diminishing.  Simply stated, we have been eating our seed corn. . . . We are witnessing a gradual, albeit accelerating, erosion rather than a single cataclysmic wakeup call. . . . Charles Darwin observed that "it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

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While there's been a lot of "Change" in Washington in the last few months, we are still at the bottom of the mountain.   The challenge ahead of us requires our policymakers to understand that the Change we must be investing in now is open-ended, risk-tolerant, and all-consuming. It is the long-term change that will protect our nation's posterity, and, by its very nature, is not politically expedient.  Sadly, the posterity baby has been thrown out with the bathwater many times in the course of the development of America's national obsession with immediate gratification, and we are paying a heavy price for this short sightedness today.