Mr. William H. Gates
Chairman, Microsoft Corporation
ON COMMITTEE’S 50th ANNIVERSARY, BILL GATES ADDRESSES AMERICAN INNOVATION AND COMPETITIVENESS
WASHINGTON D.C. - March 12, 2008 – Today in a hearing commemorating the 50th anniversary of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates testified on the state of American innovation and competitiveness, as well as the future challenges we face.
After comparing Gates to other great American innovators such as Henry Ford and Jonas Salk, Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) welcomed the Microsoft mogul, saying, “We’re honored today, with one who graces our committee room, who beat down the doors that shut out imagination and brought about a revolution in communication, which changed the world. His Foundation is now revolutionizing an assault on malaria, hunger, ignorance and illiteracy around the world.”
Hall continued, “From this Committee seat, I have seen first-hand America’s innovative capabilities. We have accomplished amazing and revolutionary things, and I am confident our finest hour is yet to come.”
Mr. Gates echoed this sentiment, praising the work the Science and Technology Committee has done in promoting science and technology policy. “This Committee can take pride in knowing that it is directly responsible for many of the key federal policies that provided the foundation for today’s U.S. technology leadership,” Gates said. “Through its efforts, the Committee has shaped our national approach and guided our investments in the most fundamental areas of scientific research and technology advancement, including space travel, aviation, computing and networking, biotechnology, energy, education, and many other fields… I am optimistic about the potential for technology to help us find new ways to improve people’s lives and tackle important challenges,”
With other countries such as China and India investing more and more in basic research, Mr. Gates noted that America needs to continue to be proactive in promoting innovation, saying, “If the United States truly wants to secure its global leadership in technology innovation, we must, as a nation, commit to a strategy for innovation excellence – a set of initiatives and policies that will provide the foundation for American competitive strength in the years ahead. Such a strategy cannot succeed without a serious commitment from – and partnership between – both the public and private sectors.”
On this front, Mr. Gates praised the Committee’s work, and particularly in passing the America COMPETES Act, which was signed into law by the President last August. COMPETES is legislation aimed at making America more competitive in the global economy by improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as bolstering scientific research.
Mr. Gates outlined the following goals for achieving what he described as “a strategy for innovation excellence:”
o Strengthening educational opportunities, so that America’s students and workers have the skills they need to succeed in the technology- and information-driven economy of today and tomorrow;
o Revamping immigration rules for highly skilled workers, so that U.S. companies can attract and retain the world’s best scientific talent;
o Increasing federal funding for basic scientific research, to train the next generation of innovators and provide the raw material for further innovation and development by industry; and
o Providing incentives for private-sector R&D, so that American businesses remain at the forefront in developing new technologies and turning them into new products and services.
Competitiveness and Innovation on the Committee's 50th Anniversary with Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft