Innovation in America… A gathering storm? @ The Economist

LISTEN to the growing cries of despair coming from some leading business people, and you might imagine that corporate America’s competitiveness could be the next victim of the global financial crisis. But Jeffrey Immelt, the boss of GE, the world’s largest industrial firm, sees opportunity amid the woe. “Companies and countries that really play offence vis-à-vis technology and innovation are going to come out ahead,” he said this week at an event in New York to present GE’s coming innovations in health-care technology.

With those words, he touched on a debate that has been heating up for many months. Even before the financial crunch began, many businessmen were worried that America was losing its lead in innovation to India and China. They were particularly upset that Asian rivals had been investing with more gusto in teaching young people mathematics and science, and in advanced scientific research. America’s National Academy of Engineering even issued a report last year, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”, arguing that America’s “economic and strategic security” was in question because of lack of investment.