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How can the next Administration ensure the U.S. tech sector maintains its innovative leadership around the globe?

Tacy Trowbridge

Education Programs Lead at Adobe

Innovation Starts in the Classroom

As a company that competes globally for highly skilled workers, we at Adobe believe schools should cultivate all students' creative literacy, enabling them to master critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creative problem-solving skills.

Achieving this vision for all students requires schools to invest in teaching meaningful skills while navigating the challenging conditions of the pandemic. To nurture innovation, education policy must evolve to support schools in this work.

How? Performance-based learning models are among the most effective and engaging ways for students to acquire the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive. This includes offering varied experiences for acquiring knowledge, skills and practices; immersive projects and opportunities to identify and solve problems; advancement upon mastery through embedded assessment; and multiple ways to express progress.

Policymakers must also do a dramatically better job of supporting teachers during the pandemic and beyond. This includes investing in professional development and support for new and veteran educators – especially in leading performance-based learning classrooms. Cultivating these teaching and learning practices will go a long way to ensuring that all students are equipped with the creative capacities they need to thrive as innovative workers, community members, and lifelong learners.

Mike Bell

SVP & GM of Optical Communications at Corning

Fifty years after Corning scientists invented the first low-loss optical fiber, launching the telecommunications revolution, a robust broadband connection has never been more important. With the onset of COVID-19, we saw bandwidth demand heat up dramatically. We're all depending on a reliable Internet connection, whether we're videoconferencing for work, seeing our doctors online, learning in a virtual classroom, or binge-watching our favorite show.

These online capabilities are great -- if you have enough bandwidth. In many areas of the United States, that's not a problem. About one-third of US households now have access to a direct fiber connection, with Gigabit speeds available. But some communities can't fully enjoy these capabilities because they're still connected to the Internet by copper wire. Many are in rural areas, but you'll also find broadband deserts in some of our greatest cities.

If you believe, as I do, that broadband is as essential as electricity, water and gas, then you begin to see the Digital Divide not simply as a geographic issue but as a social equity issue. What good is telemedicine, or a virtual classroom, for a family without a dependable broadband connection? Communities with high-speed connections enjoy substantial economic benefits: One study found that 14 communities with Gigabit broadband across nine states enjoyed approximately $1.4 billion in additional GDP when Gigabit broadband became widely available.

What should policymakers do? At the federal level, incentivize broadband infrastructure for unserved areas. We're pleased to see Congress and the FCC moving in this direction. At the local level, streamline permits and avoid excessive fees, to encourage network deployment.

For the U.S. tech sector to maintain its lead in innovation, we must work together to close the digital divide -- to ensure all our communities can enjoy the benefits of high-speed broadband.

Ben Pring

Head of Thought Leadership, and Managing Director at Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work

Maintenance of America's strength in technology – and thus its leadership in the world - rests on a renewed commitment to the underlying principles that made it strong in the first place – a focus on the future, an openness to disruption, and providing access to opportunity.

In 2021 and beyond that means policies and investments that pursue the leading edge of artificial intelligence and quantum computing, widely deploying 5G, and crafting rules of the road that sees data used in ethical and transparent ways. It means encouraging disruptive companies and ideas, limiting the power of entrenched incumbents, recognizing that the next great opportunities for progress (and job growth) will come from unlikely places. And it means ensuring that new generations understand and can control the technologies that will shape their jobs, lives and fate.

The next administration faces an urgent need to encourage the broad spread of STEM based education so kids brought up in zip codes full of coal have the same opportunities as those brought up in zip codes full of code. America wrote the book on creating a tech powerhouse and became a beacon of hope around the world in the process. Now it needs to write the sequel.

Bruce Mehlman

Founder at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas

The 20th Century is known as "the American Century" because the United States fielded the best-educated, most-diverse and freest workforce capable of out-manufacturing fascism, winning the space race and inventing the internet and its extraordinary ecosystem.

The 21st Century will belong to the nation best able to educate, inspire & empower creative and entrepreneurial citizens, giving them the tools and opportunity to tackle daunting new global challenges.

While the U.S. starts with many advantages – the world's strongest university system, steadfast commitment to the rule of law and a culture and business climate that embrace entrepreneurship – we face determined competitors with their own comparative strengths, such as larger workforces, greater focus on STEM education and more modernized infrastructures.

To win this race we'll need enlightened workforce policies that expand opportunities and leverage uniquely American assets, first-and-foremost our diversity and inclusivity. Four policy recommendations in particular stand out:

1. Universal broadband access. We can no longer afford a digital divide caused by lack of access or affordability.

2. Connected devices for all students. No child left offline in the 21st century.

3. Digital literacy throughout K-12. To reading, writing and arithmetic we must add basic digital competencies and cyber awareness.

4. Robust federal R&D and student aid. College is not the right answer for all students, but cost is an obstacle for too many.

Kevin Richards

VP, Head of U.S. Government Affairs at SAP

The history of the American economy is one of enormous progress associated with remarkable innovation which is the foundation of U.S. economic growth and national competitiveness. Today, data is the lifeblood of the digital economy. Innovation in digital technologies and data-related business models are essential to a successful economy as most sectors continue to be transformed by data-analytics and artificial Intelligence, bringing unprecedented benefits to our nation.

As the world leader in applications and analytics software, SAP has its finger on the pulse of the digital economy. We touch almost every corner of the U.S. GDP with 440,000 customers across 26 industry sectors and $3.2 trillion in commerce running through our digital business networks. While SAP did not invent the digital economy, we unquestionably understand where it is going.

SAP sees firsthand how the digital revolution is powered now more than ever by data. To ensure future U.S. competitiveness, we urge policymakers to advance the following priorities:

1. Enact a National Privacy Framework. Pursue a federal data privacy law that offers consistent protections to Americans; promotes harmonization nationally and globally; and facilitates interoperable cross-border data transfer frameworks.

2. Build a Digital Ready Workforce. Prepare workers for the digital economy by providing education and skills training in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science.

3. Enable Data-Driven Government. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed gaps in our digital resiliency. Investing in digital platforms and adopting technologies including AI, blockchain, and IoT will accelerate public sector innovation and enable efficient and effective citizen services.

Hugh Gamble

Vice President, Federal Government Affairs at Salesforce

The next Administration will govern over a period of enormous importance for the U.S. tech industry and its competitiveness around the world. It should ensure that the conditions exist for American companies to continue to lead in global technology innovation. This includes pushing for a rational national privacy law that respects the privacy of users, bolsters trust in technology providers, and serves as a model for the rest of the world.

It has been proven time and time again that a more diverse workforce is a more productive and innovative workforce. The next Administration should emphasize the establishment of an immigration system that encourages diverse talent from around the world to continue to participate in our tech economy, and prioritize the job training and reskilling that will enable more of the U.S. workforce to charge into the remainder of the 21st Century.

And finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for the next Administration and governments at every level to invest in IT systems and services that are modern, secure, flexible, agile, resilient, and customer/constituent centric so that we are prepared for whatever challenges the future holds.

John Godfrey

Senior Vice President, Public Policy at Samsung Electronics America

5G wireless is powering a wave of innovation now breaking worldwide. Just as 4G sparked a smartphone revolution a decade ago, 5G will sweep away old ways of operating for companies, governments and consumers while creating exciting opportunities for bold innovators to build entirely new businesses, create jobs and improve lives.

But the U.S. is in danger of falling behind in the race to 5G-powered innovation: Chinese mobile operators have already deployed over 400K 5G base stations and signed up tens of millions of 5G subscribers – far ahead of the U.S. and other nations. If this trend holds, innovations that use the high speed, low latency and massive connectivity of 5G — including connected driving, augmented reality, telepresence, smart agriculture and unimagined others — may be developed and perfected outside the U.S.

It's not too late to assert and maintain U.S. 5G leadership, but policymakers must quickly act to:

  1. Bring more wireless spectrum into commercial use as fast as possible, especially in the 2- to 6-GHz mid-band, which is a sweet spot for coverage and capacity;
  2. Streamline local government zoning approval of infrastructure deployment;
  3. Promote global cooperation to use trusted, secure 5G; and
  4. Apply 5G to government missions such as emergency response, military training, and veterans' health.

Jason Oxman

President and CEO at ITI

The next Administration must ensure policies aimed at protecting and strengthening national security are narrowly tailored to advance those goals while guarding against unintended negative consequences for U.S. companies and the economy. Policymakers should focus on targeted solutions that enhance cooperation between government and industry and play to our strengths in innovation, business, and international cooperation.

In crafting these policies, we urge the next Administration to consider these five guiding principles: (1) support technological leadership, which drives U.S. innovation, job creation, and economic growth – all essential to U.S. national security; (2) advance trade and investment policies that allow companies to succeed commercially, thereby contributing to technological leadership and economic competitiveness; (3) avoid overly broad policy responses that risk stifling innovation, hindering technological leadership, and harming the industrial and defense base; (4) work with like-minded economies to take common approaches to technology-related national security risks to avoid harmful policy fragmentation and maximize the likelihood of achieving shared security objectives; and (5) engage in regular and robust communication with the tech industry about relevant risks.

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