Posted by Pamela Passman
Corporate Vice President, Global Corporate Affairs
The way out of our nation’s current economic difficulties is through innovation fostered by investments in education, technical job skills training, and science and technology infrastructure. That’s what Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in February at the House Democratic Caucus retreat. Today we are very happy to see President Obama unveil his new national innovation agenda – a plan that will create jobs and steer our economy back toward lasting growth.
President Obama’s innovation plan commits the nation to several important strategies that Microsoft wholeheartedly supports: investing in the nation’s future workforce by reemphasizing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and focusing R&D on national priorities such as health, broadband and energy. We also support the administration’s decision to appoint the first federal Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer to coordinate the government’s research, technology, and innovation policies.
President Obama’s focus on innovation strikes home for Microsoft, as we invest over $9 billion each year in R&D. We’ve long believed that government investments in STEM education pay huge social and economic dividends in the form of young minds eager to innovate, and we’ve recognized that companies such as Microsoft have a vital role to play in this process, which is why we’ve devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to improving education through Partners in Learning. It’s also why we launched Microsoft DreamSpark, which provides U.S. students with free, professional software development tools to help them gain the skills they will use to contribute to our nation’s innovation capacity. By promoting a well-rounded education for young people, the federal government and partner companies like Microsoft are making the soundest financial decision: investing in the future of American ingenuity.
The nation also needs to ensure that no one is left out – that technological knowledge is available to everyone. Microsoft strongly supports the President and First Lady in promoting community-based programs to improve and expand STEM education for women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups. Microsoft’s collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America on its Club Tech program – which provides access to technology and 21st-century workforce skills to 4.5 million young people at more than 4,200 clubs -- is one of our many efforts to get underrepresented groups interested in pursuing STEM careers. We’re hopeful that the energy the White House is bringing to this important task will encourage more individuals and businesses to join in.
As the President’s agenda lays out, investments in innovation will spur progress on the nation’s priorities, such as expanding access to healthcare while reducing costs and improving outcomes. This is a major challenge that we focus on everyday at Microsoft, through our Health Solutions Group and our HealthVaultplatform, which gives consumers control over their health records and helps them make better decisions about their care. Our Amalga Unified Intelligence System also helps healthcare providers realize efficiencies and gain better insight into the care they provide.
Microsoft’s Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Craig Mundie, is a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, working with the administration, educators and other industry leaders to develop the nation’s innovation policy. This is incredibly important work, because inventions of the next decade – some we can predict, many we can’t – will largely determine the relative economic strength of the nations that foster them.
In the days ahead, as our nation’s families and businesses regain confidence in the economy’s recovery, we at Microsoft are eager to work with government to restore the economy through innovation.