Oh No, US Falls Behind Denmark In Terms Of Innovation

from the next-train-to-copenhagen dept

For decades, people have been talking about how the US is falling behind the rest of the world in various key categories. But despite all of the dire warnings, the US economy continues to do well. A new study from the World Economic Forum claims that for the first time, the US has lost the #1 position in terms of technology innovation. Now Denmark has the top spot, with the US slipping all the way back to #7. What's also surprising is that India and China, which seem to be advancing quite rapidly, both economically and technologically, fell back this year. These results seem counterintuitive to the point of being suspect. If you look at the reasons the World Economic Forum cited in putting Denmark at the top of the list, it seems the group was mainly looking at things like government practices and regulation. These things are important, but a good regulatory framework is not the same thing as having a climate of innovation. Obviously, the US has some problems to be worked out on the legal side, but our companies seem to innovate in spite of these hurdles. The same could likely be said about China and India, where companies are thriving in spite of some poor government choices. So while we might look to Denmark as having a good model of government regulation, it's hard to imagine many entrepreneurs and startups flocking there.

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  • identicon
    Dave Barnes, 29 Mar 2007 @ 3:37pm

    Have you read the report?

    Joe,

    Have you read the report?
    Have you found the complete version online?
    I tried to find this 600-page beast and could not and I definitely won't pay for it.

    thanks,
    dave

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Starky, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:24pm

    Or...

    Maybe we still have just as much innovation as before. Perhaps the other countries are just catching up now, and if they can do it better, hurray for them.

    Of course, the reason might just be due to stupid patent lawsuits and a screwed up system. The first theory is just BS make it seem better.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:33pm

    Wallstreet wants immediate returns. VC's begin executing exit strategies almost as soon as they write the check for the first round of funding. Why innovate if you can't get immediate gratification (aka profit) in less than a year to 18 months. e.g. the .Com bubble.

    We're too spoiled in this country to appreciate long term investments. We want the $ this quarter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:54pm

      Re:

      Actually, if you knew anything of which you spoke, many firms are turning to private-equity buyouts for precisely the opposite reason of what you suggest; VC's and private equity are MUCH more patient than the public market is, and understand completely in long term investment, while the stock market most understands quarterly reports. Though some companies are no longer issueing guidance, that still isn't as good as not having to worry about hitting quarterly numbers at all for firms that really need time to make important long-term investments. The fact that private equity and VC is good is that when put back on the market, the market values them higher (even though they are sometimes laden with debt from the equity group) and the companies moving forward outperform their peers.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bignumone, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:38pm

    falling behind

    Part of it is the benefits of innovating. Corporate leaders suck the life out of truly innovative people by collecting most of the earnings from their innovations. They set the rules up so anybody who is that type HAS to work for them.
    Go ahead, try to start up a new company with a really innovative product. It is a daunting task!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:41pm

    I wouldn't put entrepreneurs and startups in the same catagory as innovative engineers, scientists and true "inventors".

    Entrepreneurs and startups won't flock to Denmark or other places because the US is the best capitalist country to invest in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Danish Guy, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:46pm

    Being danish

    As a danish guy, having a startup in CA, I find this highly ironic. However, while I don't think people will move to Denmark to start companies, I know from my own experience that a LOT of my Danish friends have started their own companies, and are doing quite well, internationally. This study may not imply people will move to Denmark (let's just say 62.5% max. tax for private people is not a very attractive situation), but it does imply that if you're already there, you're not in a bad spot. There are plenty Angels and Funds in Denmark to go around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 4:48pm

    Bignumone said it well. Corporations tie up the best minds in the country with non-compete and take complete ownership of their engineer's IP, flip them a cheap watch and a pat on the head. Then that's the end of the great idea(s). If an engineers invention doesn't pass the internal ROI hurdle, or it get's beat out by another capital investment project with a better ROI, the invention gets shelved...to hell with how the invention may revolutionize our lives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Corporate Magnate, 29 Mar 2007 @ 5:09pm

      Whiny Engineers

      Hey listen, if you don't want to get paid, don't sign the damn documents for NDA and Non-Competes. All engineers think that the world should beat a path to their door for their left handed coke can electronic devices. But when you need money, you come to me. I took the risk, I pay you, you get something for the risk you take, then COMPLAIN later that you had no free capital to play with to make your failed left handed coke can. Get real. The owners of capital decide in five seconds whether your muffler bearing software is cosmic. But you have a choice! You can avoid signing anything! You can stop them! You can invent in your garage and try to compete on your own without capital! You can be Thomas Edison! Not likely without capital bubba. Get a good laywer and you will make plenty of dough. Just like the MSFT guys that complain when they have to pay taxes (EGAD!) on their FREE options. Sorry the other 64% was free money to you too. Or you can ask Auntie Pinhead for a free loan if you think you can make it stick.l

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ayal Rosenthal, 29 Mar 2007 @ 6:36pm

    Really? Denmark? Are you sure?

    The sad thing is that some people might take the World Economic Forum report seriously. A regulatory environment that protects property rights (which the US does amazingly well) is the most critical first step to the innovation process.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 29 Mar 2007 @ 7:00pm

    The US is strong like a cheetah is fast

    A cheetah is the fast animal in the world--for about 300 metres, then it runs out of steam. No staying power. The same seems to be true of the USA--no capacity for long-term concentration. You put men on the moon, then lost interest. You knocked the Taliban out of Afghanistan, then got distracted by a useless war elsewhere and let them regroup and rebuild their strength.

    What happened to the brilliant long-term thinking that gave us the Marshall Plan? It's nowhere to be seen these days. That's why increasingly the innovation is coming from elsewhere.

    The US is the Microsoft of countries: increasingly relying on dominance by default, rather than continuing to work at it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Extreme Centrist, 29 Mar 2007 @ 7:25pm

    Did anyone actually read this article?

    I read enough of the article to understand what their rankings are based on. What a crock! I'm sure Denmark is a fine country, and I have no doubt that the education system in Denmark is top-notch. But I'm not worried about my job being off-shored there. We have IBM in for a major engagement, and well over half of their consultants are from India. I strongly believe that our wireless infrastructure is far more advanced, overall, than India's. I didn't see India or China anywhere on the list. Perhaps the criteria for the study were not completely valid. When will we see a study showing how much a sensationalist article can stir people up?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    squik, 29 Mar 2007 @ 8:35pm

    The Economy is doing well?

    But despite all of the dire warnings, the US economy continues to do well.

    Perhaps you haven't been paying attention.

    GDP growth rate for Q4 2006 was revised downward to 2.5%. Bernanke is predicting 2007 will have 2% growth rate. Meanwhile, we have persistent inflation fueled by high growth in emerging economies competing for energy and raw materials. Factor in foreclosure rates as high as 9% among subprime loans and over 3% for all mortgages in middle American states like Ohio. Don't forget falling consumer confidence and flat retail performance. Add to that a weakening dollar and the recession we are already in, but the government has yet to recognize (give it a couple more months; it takes 6 months for the government to admit a recession).

    No, Joe, there is no Santa Claus. Our economy is not in good shape.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Mar 2007 @ 8:47pm

    What happened to the brilliant long-term thinking?

    We have a new generation driving the boat. The newer generation was raised getting exponentially "more" than the older generation. Our culture today is for immediate gratification. Get rich quick. Look at the credit card debt in the U.S. Why is it outrageously out of control? It's not because we're buying basic food, clothing and shelter on our credit cards! We're getting immediate gratification buying all the toys/accessories we need on our credit cards to look good and impress others.

    Innovation will be held back if it doesn't have a rapid ROI. [immediate gratification]. It's our culture in the U.S.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LikwidN2, 30 Mar 2007 @ 8:01am

    Next New Generation

    I'm just worried (speaking as an insider) that our next "new" generation, the up-and-comings in universities and high schools around the country will be no better. When the FaceBook nation rules the most powerful failing state in the world, we can either see the destruction of America or rise once again as a new superpower.

    The question is, did we have enough guidance? Did we have role models or pipe dreams? The dreamers may make the world a better place, but the do-ers make it real. Are we going to buy into last-gen's "get rich quick" schemes, scandals, and lies? Was our government's credibility (and therefor the credibility of governments) irreparably destroyed for todays "older youth"?

    I wish us luck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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