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Advancing US innovation by reforming patent and R&D policy

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The recent slowdown in productivity growth has led to a renewed focus on policies that can support or interfere with technological progress and innovation. Researchers who study the rules governing intellectual property have become concerned that the current system functions poorly, often impeding innovation rather than promoting it. At the same time, inefficiencies in the research and development pipeline have unnecessarily limited innovation.

On December 13, The Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution hosted a policy forum to explore the most effective policy options to address these challenges. The forum will feature a fireside chat between Kevin Hassett, Chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisers and Greg Ip, Chief Economics Commentator, The Wall Street Journal on the role of innovation in driving economic growth. The event also included roundtable discussions on best practices for strengthening R&D pipelines, and on realigning incentives to increase patent quality. Roundtable participants included: Dr. Richard Moscicki, Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Science and Regulatory, PhRMA; Ryan Umstattd, Acting Deputy Director for Commercialization, ARPA-E; Tim Lee, Senior Tech Policy Reporter, Ars Technica; Edward J. Black, President and CEO, Computer & Communications Industry Association; and Lisa Cook, Professor of Economics, Michigan State University.

In conjunction with the forum, The Hamilton Project released two new policy proposals by: Anna Goldstein (Stanford University and Carnegie Institution for Science), Pierre Azoulay (MIT), Joshua Graff Zivin (University of California San Diego), and Vladimir Bulović (MIT) discussing lessons learned from drug development that can be applied to energy innovation; and Michael D. Frakes (Duke University School of Law) and Melissa Wasserman (University of Texas Law School) exploring reforms to the patent system that can minimize the granting of invalid patents.


1:30 PM Welcome and Introduction

Robert E. Rubin
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary
Co-Chair Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations

1:35 PM Fireside Chat: The Role of Innovation in Driving Economic Growth

Kevin Hassett 
White House Council of Economic Advisers

Greg Ip
Chief Economics Commentator
The Wall Street Journal

2:15 PM Roundtable Discussion: Best Practices for Strengthening R&D Pipelines

Joshua Graff Zivin
Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs
University of California-San Diego

Ryan Umstattd 
Acting Deputy Director for Commercialization
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

Dr. Richard Moscicki 
Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President, Science and Regulatory

Moderator: Jay Shambaugh  
Director, The Hamilton Project
Senior Fellow, Economic Studies
The Brookings Institution

3:05 PM Break

3:15 PM Roundtable Discussion: Realigning Incentives to Increase Patent Quality

Lisa Cook
Associate Professor of Economics
and International Relations
Michigan State University

Melissa Wasserman 
Professor of Law
The University of Texas at Austin

Edward J. Black
President and CEO
Computer & Communications Industry Association

Moderator: Tim Lee 
Senior Tech Policy Reporter
Ars Technica

4:00 PM Forum Adjourns