These paragraphs come from Energy sector poised for innovation — with the right spark by Bill Gates and Chad Holliday, (Washington Post, Friday, April 23, 2010)
This country runs on innovation. The American success story — from Ben Franklin’s bifocals to Thomas Edison’s light bulb to Henry Ford’s assembly line to today’s advanced microprocessors — is all about inventing our future. The companies we ran, Microsoft and DuPont, were successful because they invested deeply in new technologies and new ideas.
But our country is neglecting a field central to our national prospect and security: energy. Although the information technology and pharmaceutical industries spend 5 to 15 percent of their revenue on research and development each year, U.S. companies’ spending on energy R&D has averaged only about one-quarter of 1 percent of revenue over the past 15 years.
And despite talk about the need for “21st-century” energy sources, federal spending on clean energy research — less than $3 billion — is also relatively small. Compare that with roughly $30 billion that the U.S. government annually spends on health research and $80 billion on defense research and development.
The core force of innovation — vision, experimentation and wise investments — has led to thousands of breakthroughs that benefit us all. A serious commitment to innovation can be transformative, as we saw with the effort to replace chlorofluorocarbons two decades ago. We need the same serious commitment in the energy sector to developing the original American energy supply: innovation.
(Bill Gates is chairman of Microsoft Corp. Chad Holliday was chairman and chief executive of DuPont from 1998 to 2009).
The full article is worth reading.