Brad Watts Brad Watts
Vice President, Patents and Innovation Policy, Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC), U.S. Chamber of Commerce


May 22, 2024


Innovation works when we have all kinds of people involved in the process. We need people with different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences working in our innovation ecosystem to truly find all the solutions to the world’s problems.

More people, better results: Inclusive innovation provides an immense strategic advantage to America’s economy and national security. Unfortunately, the innovation ecosystem has at times been inaccessible for many people. For example, women and people of color hold significantly fewer patents - a key indicator of innovative output - than their Caucasian and male counterparts. By failing to engage these Americans, we are missing out on more than just new products, services, and creative ideas; we are neglecting a wealth of social and economic growth that could propel us forward.

Time and Change: Thankfully, we’re beginning to see changes in the right direction. New data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) shows promising trends. More women are entering and staying active in the patent system than ever before. In fact, the number of patents with at least one-woman inventor increased to 21.9% by the end of 2019. And it’s important to note that many of these women are patenting in STEM fields. We’ve made progress, but there’s plenty more potential to unlock.

Business and government are leading the way: The Chamber of Commerce has included inclusive innovation in our IP Principles, a guide policymakers can consider as they make improvements to our innovation ecosystem. The principles make clear that Americans from every walk of life must become engaged in the IP system and that the U.S. government should, in coordination with the private sector, develop policies that create a ‘lost Einstein’ innovator pipeline.

USPTO’s 2022-2026 strategic plan names inclusive innovation as the first of its five goals. And, just a few weeks ago, USPTO launched a national strategy for inclusive innovation. Better still Congress is also routinely addressing the need for inclusive innovation. American leaders must continue developing policies that empower every people to innovate.

The bottom line: The Chamber is committed to ensuring that innovation and creativity are open to everyone. Working together, private businesses and government can power an innovation ecosystem that reflects our American melting pot. By doing so, we can ensure that America will lead in the development and creation of the next generation of new products, services, brands, and groundbreaking technologies.    

About the authors

Brad Watts

Brad Watts

Brad Watts is the Vice President for Patents and Innovation Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC). He works with U.S. Chamber members to foster a political, legal, and economic environment where innovators and creators can invest in the next big thing for the benefit of Americans and the world.

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