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Robert Atkinson  

Founder & President of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Dr. Robert D. Atkinson is one of the country’s foremost thinkers on innovation economics. He has conducted ground-breaking research on technology and innovation and authored three books, including Big is Beautiful: Debunking the Mythology of Small Business (MIT Press, 2018). Atkinson is a sought-after speaker and valued adviser to state, national , and international policymakers on topics ranging from tax policy to advanced manufacturing, productivity, and global competitiveness.

As founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), recognized as the world’s top think tank for science and technology policy, Atkinson leads a prolific team of policy analysts and fellows that is successfully shaping the debate and setting the agenda on a host of critical issues at the intersection of technological innovation and public policy.

Before founding ITIF, Atkinson was Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and Director of PPI’s Technology & New Economy Project. He received his Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon and was named a distinguished alumnus in 2014. He received his Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1989.

Speech Topics

Winning the Long Economic War With China

Unlike other nations, China is not seeking to comparative advantage being good at some industries and importing others. It is seeking absolute advantage in all advanced industries and it is willing to do whatever it takes to win. What does this mean for the future of the global economy and the United States, including U.S. firms in a wide array of industries. Equally important what does the U.S. government need to do to win this war, and what are the barriers that are getting in the way.

Productivity is Everything

Rich economies became rich by being more productive. However, in the last 15 years labor productivity growth has declined to all-time lows, making it harder to raise incomes, grow companies, and expand the economy. What accounts for this productivity slowdown? Will emerging technologies like autonomous systems, AI, 5G, IOT and other technologies make enough of a difference? What should industry do? What should the federal government do, and what exactly would a national productivity strategy look like?

Time for a Real U.S. Industrial Policy

For almost half a century the term "industrial policy" has been a derogatory one, suggesting the government intervening where it shouldn't. But the rise of advanced industries in China, threatening both U.S. military and economic security, has brought the term back to some level of respectability in Washington, in part reflected by the recent passage by Congress of the Chips and Science Act. Why is industrial policy getting more attention, and what are the politics of it in DC? How do Democrats and Republicans look at it differently? How can industry help shape industrial policy. And what kind of industrial policy does the nation need?

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