I really hate to say this, but President Obama holds the keys.  During the past decade the federal government has spent nearly a trillion dollars on Research and Development (R&D).  About 2/3rds of that going to national research labs around the country to names like Lawrence Livermore, Oakridge, Brookhaven, Sandia, etc. the other 1/3rd has gone to university researchers.

And what’s happened to most of that research?  Some of it we’ll never know. Just too classified. Our grandchildren may find out when the research is eventually declassified or hacked by the next generation of Edward Snowden’s. Some small percentage of it our children will get to play with.  Hopefully they will do more with it than create iPhone apps. But most likely 95% of the research will never see the light of commercialization.  It will not create any new jobs beyond the few researchers that developed it and eventually it will be put on the shelf because they didn’t really know what to do with it. 

If it does see commercial daylight it will most likely be a pharmaceutical product.  Which is generally good news.  But there are a few million businesses in America that are not pharmaceutical development companies and never will be. 

There are tens of thousands of people in America that believe they are or should be entrepreneurs inventing the next great global empire.  It is in their blood to want to be great.  Regretfully most of our education system would rather produce tenured high school teachers, insurance salesmen or executive assistants.  Not only do we not challenge our young people to be great entrepreneurs, we distain the successful.

We aren’t much different that the National Football League or AYSO for that matter. We are taught we are great, but in reality we strive for mediocrity.  No one should be too rich and no one should be too poor.  Everyone is equally great. No one should win every game. Everyone gets a trophy.

So back to my earlier point about President Obama holding the keys to entrepreneurial success.  We have hundreds of the finest research labs in the world that have been generously funded for decades.  But beyond Tang and GPS it is a challenge for most Americans to name commercial products developed in our government labs. Ask someone you know how many non-government jobs the billions in government-sponsored research have created.

Hundreds of thousands of patents are literally sitting on virtual shelves around the country gathering dust.  Some of them may have actually produced one product, but most haven’t.  Their research value is in the hundreds of billions.  The commercial value could be 25 times that, but we may never know.  My calculator doesn’t have that many zero’s.

The solution?  Let the creative business community into these labs to find and translate these patents into understandable business language.  Once diverse business people understand what a certain piece of intellectual property actually is they will invariably create multiple new uses that the original inventor/researcher never envisioned. President Obama could unleash a new business revolution, create tens of thousands of jobs, and conquer many vexing problems our society has faced for decades.

Why did I say that I hate it that President Obama holds the keys to our business future.  Its pretty simple, he and every president before him and those that will follow are politician’s first.  Politicians at any level are neither courageous nor independent thinkers.  And today more than at any time, we need to find some creative courage if we are to grow this country.  Brilliance can be multiplied.

Mike Sims

Your comments are welcome……..

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AuthorMike Sims