What companies must do to survive the decade

Companies all over the world are becoming increasingly worried about their ability to innovate and compete in the fast-changing technology world. That’s according to GE’s third annual “Global Innovation Barometer” released Jan 17.

America: Why are you so afraid of skilled immigrants?

One of the most contentious issues in the skilled-immigrant debate is the H-1B visa, which allows qualified immigrants to work for U.S. tech companies on a temporary basis. Proponents of raising the H-1B visa cap say the nation faces a dire shortage of engineering talent and needs more of these visas to stay competitive. Detractors insist that there is no engineer shortage and that America should close its doors to foreigners because they take jobs away from citizens. Battles break out in Capitol Hill over the number of visas allocated because there are no hard data to back either side.

Silicon Valley needs humanities students

Quit your technology job. Get a Ph.D in the humanities. That’s the way to get ahead in the technology sector. That, at least, is what philosopher Damon Horowitz told a crowd of attendees at the BiblioTech Conference at Stanford University in 2011.

The gangsters of Silicon Valley

President Obama has been touting patents as a way to create jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness. “These are jobs and businesses of the future just waiting to be created,” he said of patent applications last September, “somewhere in that stack of applications could be the next technological breakthrough, the next miracle drug, the next idea that will launch the next Fortune 500 company.”

My wasted day on Capitol Hill

With the economy still in the doldrums, our political leaders are desperate to find ways to boost economic growth. Innovation and entrepreneurship are among the most obvious pathways to a solution. Both were the subject of a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship chaired by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Wednesday. I was asked to participate in the discussion with other academics, government officials and entrepreneurs.

Why the next Mark Zuckerberg may come from Brazil

Silicon Valley has led the world in innovation and entrepreneurship because of its culture of information sharing and mentoring. No other region in the world is like it. But things are changing. In my travels to countries like India, China, and Chile, I’ve witnessed a noticeable evolution in entrepreneurial culture over the past five years. Networking groups are emerging, and entrepreneurs are becoming more open. One of the most impressive examples of this is in Campinas, Brazil—a small university town on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.

America, keep rewarding your dissidents

Ever since I became an academic six years ago, I have been one of the biggest critics of U.S. competitiveness policies. I documented, for example, that we had our data wrong when it came to India and China’s advantages in engineering education and R&D, that we didn’t understand how to build innovation centers, and that our assumptions about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship were wrong. I have been particularly vocal about America’s flawed immigration policies. I quantified the amazing contribution that skilled immigrants make in the technology industry and raised the alarm about the reverse brain drain that is in progress. I testified, assertively, to Congress, and have been badgering our political leaders to act on these important issues.

Facebook and the big IPO letdown

Facebook’s IPO has raised hopes in Silicon Valley that the tech industry’s days of wine and roses will soon be back with hundreds of startups going public. Even President Obama seems excited. He recently proposed an “IPO on-ramp” to help young, smaller companies go public.

Social media’s role in politics

You’ve read how Facebook and Twitter fueled the Arab Spring uprising. You are watching the videos coming out of Syria on Facebook. But most likely you have not witnessed the power of social media impacting politics in near real time right here at home in America. Sure, activism groups and politicians have tapped social media to raise money. But to date, no flash mob has ever stopped a bill in its tracks or beaten down in less than 48-hours legislation pushed by some of the most well-funded, well-connected lobbies on K Street. But that’s exactly what happened on Jan. 20 when a loosely organized campaign to stop PIPA and SOPA swept the Internet and shook the power structure of Washington D.C.

Eight technologies for a healthier 2012

Welcome to 2012 and a new list of New Year’s resolutions — a list that likely includes some variation on adopting a healthier lifestyle. Thanks to the acceleration of technology, fulfilling your resolutions this time around may be easier than it was in 2011.