Beltway Confidential

Obama to scientists: You didn’t build that

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Beltway Confidential,Michal Conger

President Obama suggested today that innovation needs government to become successful. Announcing his “BRAIN Initiative,” which will fund research on the human brain, the president attributed American scientists’ success to research and development made possible by the government from start to finish.

“We support labs and universities to help them learn and explore. And we fund grants to help them turn a dream into a reality. And we have a patent system to protect their inventions. And we offer loans to help them turn those inventions into successful businesses,” he said.

The government is the reason some of the most successful inventions exist today, Obama added.

“Computer chips and GPS technology, the Internet — all these things grew out of government investments in basic research,” he said. ”And sometimes, in fact, some of the best products and services spin off completely from unintended research that nobody expected to have certain applications.”

Obama listed several successful projects that started with government money.

“So the founders of Google got their early support from the National Science Foundation. The Apollo project that put a man on the moon also gave us eventually CAT scans,” he said.

The White House budget, slated to go to Congress next week, proposes $100 million from the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation for research into how the brain functions.

The president first hinted at the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative in his State of the Union address when he said the government must invest in new innovation to create jobs.  

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