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Bill Gates on the New Road Ahead

A well-coordinated national approach to "innovation excellence" is the best way for America to retain a leading position in the world's information technology marketplace, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told U.S. legislators in March.

"We all want the U.S. to continue to be the world's center for innovation. But our position is at risk," Gates told the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology. He cited two primary reasons: "First, U.S. companies face a severe shortfall of scientists and engineers with expertise to develop the next generation of breakthroughs. Second, we don't invest enough as a nation in the basic research needed to drive long-term innovation."

Failing to reverse those trends will erode America's competitive advantage, Gates warned the legislators. In his written testimony, Microsoft's founder called for business and government to join forces in developing a strategy with four key goals:

1. Strengthening educational opportunities to give American students and workers the skills needed to thrive in an information-driven economy.

2. Revamping immigration rules to help American companies recruit-and retain-highly skilled workers from other nations.

3. Increasing federal funding for scientific research to help "train the next generation of innovators" and encourage additional development by industry.

4. Providing incentives for private-sector R&D to help businesses create new technologies, products and services.

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