Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


October 14, 2020


"Diversity drives innovation, not the other way around," said U.S. Chamber President Suzanne Clark at the Global Innovation Policy Center'sEquality of Opportunity in the Innovation Economyevent on October 1. "Differing perspectives lead to differing ideas, and robust debate and discussion leads to more innovation and important breakthroughs."

Making the innovation economy more inclusive isn't just the right thing to do; it's also good business, and America's competitiveness depends on it.

"Innovation can bring us together, and we can all get behind it, as we did when the United States put men on the moon some 50 years ago. We can all get behind Innovation once again," explained Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu inkeynote remarks. "I am asking all of you to join me in this effort: a national call to promote Innovation everywhere and with everyone. Quite simply, in this hyper-competitive global economy, we need all hands on deck."

Clark dove deeper into the importance of diversity and inclusion in a conversation with Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

"We need to talk about delivering the future in an equitable way," said Dr. McMurry-Heath.

For example, we need to make sure children in vulnerable communities, and underrepresented groups have access to the biotech pipeline's scientific solutions. "They need freedom from illness," said Dr. McMurry-Heath. "If we don't find an equitable way to give it to them, then we are going to really lock in inequalities for decades to come."

Dr. McMurry-Heath talked about the BIOEquality Agenda, an effort "that aims to counteract the systemic inequality, injustice, and unfair treatment of underserved communities."

It has three pillars.

1. Promote health equityby improving clinical trials' diversity and advocating for access to new COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. "It's important that everyone recovers from this pandemicand not just a few," said Dr. McMurry-Heath.

2. Invest in the current and next generation of scientists.One way to do this is by creating a network of minority scientists and engineers so that companies can more easily find great talent.

3. Expand opportunity for women and other underrepresented groups."We're trying to help our companies try to diversify their supply chains to make it easy for them to patronize women-owned and minority-owned businesses," explained Dr. McMurry-Heath.

Along with diversity and inclusion, a critical component to a vibrant innovation economy is intellectual property protections, Dr. McMurry-Heath noted. "An idea without protection is not valuable, and you don't have the opportunity to attract the investment, attract the support that you need to be able to turn your idea into a concrete solution."

The event was well-received. "IBM is proud to partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Innovation Policy Center to increase the involvement of underrepresented groups in advancing innovation," said Manny Schecter, IBM Chief Patent Counsel. "Promoting diversity and inclusion have long been central to IBM's values, and we believe that fostering greater diversity of ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds will enhance long-term growth and America's continued global technology leadership."

Click here to watch the event.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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