The ITIF: Watching the IT Innovation Forest

December 22, 2009

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation – ITIF – is a Washington D.C. based non-profit think tank, about 3.5 years old, acting as an analysis and commentary source for technology innovation policy. The staff consists of mixed bag of techies, legislative and policy types. The board (interestingly there is a longer list of board members than staff members – could only happen in D.C.) includes two senators and two congress-people as honorary co-chairs. As eye-catching as the extensive and influential board are the “Affiliated Experts” which boasts real-world IT luminaries like Irving Wladawsky-Berger who was a leader in the realm of IBM’s innovations for nearly four decades.

Why care about and track this innovation policy think tank? As ITIF states, “…the mission of the… ITIF is to help policy makers at the federal and state levels to better understand the nature of the new innovation economy and the types of public policies needed to drive innovation, productivity and broad-based prosperity for all Americans.” Think of ITIF as a powerful advocate, educator and policy voice to help push forward the “innovation economy” with a focus on IT.

While superficially ITIF might seem US-centric the issues it addresses span the globe. For example ITIF offers viewpoints and forums on subjects such as Digital Piracy, Digital Rights Management, and Information Privacy, all of which have a profound effect on the decisions and actions of IT innovators, IT vendors, businesses and certainly on our daily lives as individuals.

ITIF, however, may move beyond purely IT boundaries, such as when it showed support of the Obama administration’s STEM educational initiative announced in November, 2009. STEM aims to drive funding partnerships to support science, technology, engineering and math (thus s-t-e-m) education, and thereby jobs and co-innovation. If you Google “stem initiative” you will find STEM already showing up at the state and university levels.

While I look for compelling individual trees of innovation, the ITIF keeps track, educates and advocates for the entire forest.

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