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'Metropolitan Policy' Pushes Government Investment in Innovation

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WASHINGTON, June 12 - Three policy officials on Thursday suggested differing variations of a proposal that would put federal, state and local government officials in the business of promoting technological innovation.

The proposals came at a conference on "metropolitan policy," a new phease for thinking about government involvment with economic and social issues on a local level being promoted by the think tank Brookings Institution, among others.

The three proposals came at the “Summit for American Prosperity: Washington and Metropolitan Areas Working Together,” sponsored by the Brookings Institution. The think tank has released a Blueprint for American Prosperity.

“Current federal innovation programs are fragmented and diffused,” said Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He said he wants to see federal policies that provide incentives for innovation in services, as well as products.

Economist Howard Wial, at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings,  proposed a National Innovation Foundation. The NIF would “incorporate and expand on existing activities in the department of commerce and labor and the National Science Foundation,” he said.

Karen Mills, president of the MMP Group, proposed a third initiative, the Competitive Leadership for the United States Thought Economic Regions initiative.

Like the NIF, CLUSTER would be “bottom-up” and collaborative rather than “top-down” organizations and both government funded, she said. It would also be set up to support regional and state initiative programs across the nation that would direct financial and other assistance to individual initiatives with a similar purposes.

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