Jun 29, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Leaders of nine large US corporations came together in June of 2015 to urge Congress to take steps to ensure that the country maintains its position as a global innovation leader. Dubbed the Innovation Imperative, the document was backed by more than 500 American organizations across the higher education, science and engineering industries.

Now that three years have passed, it begs the question: Has progress been made? Here’s a closer look at the June 2018 Progress Report from Innovation Imperative organizers.

Enacted Change

The Innovation Imperative set forth seven areas of improvement aimed at helping the US keep its competitive edge.

Of these seven, two have a status of “enacted.” These include making the R&D tax credit permanent and strengthening it for start-ups and small businesses and reaffirming the American system of independent, merit-based peer review.

Making Progress

Four other areas were determined to be either in progress or with progress made but more needed, including renewing the federal commitment to scientific discovery; improving achievement in STEM; streamlining or eliminating expensive and inefficient regulations; and stimulating further improvements in advanced manufacturing.

Increasing Concern

Only one area has escalated as a concern since 2015 and therefore been identified as requiring additional attention: Reforms to US visa policy.

Specifically, the Innovation Imperative organizers have determined that a slow and burdensome visa process is hurting the country’s ability to attract the world’s best and brightest talent. As a result, the US has seen its first decline in more than a decade to the number of international students seeking study and research opportunities there.

“Until this gap can be filled through increased investments in STEM education and training programs for American students, U.S. colleges, universities, and companies need a robust high-skilled visa program and additional green cards to access the top talent graduating from our higher education institutions,” the update proposes.

Wondering what countries are winning when it comes to innovation, meanwhile? Here's the scoop. 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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