The economy has been hit not just with a deep recession, but with longer-term challenges as well – notably, the rise in global competition for economic leadership.
Thus the United States, some policy wonks say, needs to build up its own ranks of entrepreneurs, scientists, and innovators – just as the Geek Squad at Best Buy stands ready to help with technological issues. President Obama and allies in Congress have already taken some steps along these lines such as reforming the patent system.
Another idea touted by innovation experts is simply to lure more of the world's best and brightest from overseas. Often they come to the US to study. Adapting immigration policies to encourage more of them to stay and work could pay dividends.
"Prizes for most of these contests are relatively small, less than $10 million apiece – evidence enough that small investments can nurture really big ideas," technology scholar and entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa writes in a new issue of Foreign Policy magazine.