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A report that will be released Wednesday from the bipartisan Aspen Cybersecurity Group suggests that the United States is losing its grip as a global innovation leader and needs government action to resecure its edge.

Why it matters: Innovation isn't just an economic issue (though it is certainly that). It has huge national security and geopolitical implications, too.

  • "Will America lead the technology that secures Americans?" asked Lisa Monaco, co-chair of the Aspen group, in an interview with Axios. "Will American values be reflected in the technologies of the future?"

The Aspen Cybersecurity Group is co-chaired by Monaco, Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. Its members include 2 former heads of the NSA, high ranking executives from Apple, Facebook, Johnson & Johnson and Duke Energy, and several prominent academics.

The big picture: The U.S. faces substantial competition in innovation from China. Even countries like South Korea and Israel outspend the United States in government funding for research.

  • The Aspen report identifies 5 factors behind America's tech leadership: the decimation of infrastructure in competing nations from World War II, federal spending on foundational science, importing innovators through immigration, Cold War competition and spending on education.
  • The U.S. can't (and shouldn't) hope to replicate its "world war victor" advantage. But, per the report, lawmakers can and should leverage the other 4 categories — even though so much recent legislation has moved in the opposite direction.

The proposal: The Aspen report advocates...

  • Federal funding of half the total U.S. R&D budget — that was the norm until the 1980s when privately funded research took over. It has since declined further. The government currently funds around 22.5% of basic research.
  • Increasing the tolerance for risk in research, including funding curiosity-based science with no clear application.
  • Increased education spending, including training in tech ethics and strategically retraining people who started in other career paths. That would expand the potential workforce while introducing other fields' modes of thought into the tech world.
  • Bolstering the tech workforce at all levels through immigration.
  • Easing barriers to trade while improving protections on intellectual property theft.
  • Focusing on moonshot-like goals to increase urgency and provide deadlines.

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments — Fauci: "Confident" Omicron cases will peak in February.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Biden admin withdraws temporary vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers — New York Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Hochul's mask mandate for public areas — Sarah Palin tests positive, delaying defamation trial — Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker

The Robinhood M&A rumor mill churns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Robinhood's valuation is now just over $11 billion, a fraction of where it traded in August and below that of its last private round of funding. Cue the M&A mongers.

Why it matters: It's not just Robinhood—falling values of growth-oriented tech stocks have raised speculation that formerly high-flying fintechs could be snapped up by more well-capitalized buyers.

1 hour ago - Health

Student's death renews calls for schools to stock opioid overdose drug

Photo: Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Connecticut student's death has renewed calls for schools to stock and administer naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Why it matters: U.S. drug overdose fatalities reached six figures in a 12-month period for the first time in November, and synthetic or natural opioids were the cause of a majority of the overdoses.