Modern workers can change jobs or careers several times during their working lives, and the U.S. government needs to help them adjust to an ever-changing work environment, said G. Wayne Clough, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-chairman of the National Innovation Initiative.
"In addition to growing new generations of innovators, we must also empower the workers of today," Clough said. "For many workers in the innovation space, the economic ground often feels like it's shifting beneath their feet, and many of them are uncertain about the future."
Palmisano, whose company has embraced open source software such as Linux, also focused on intellectual property reform. He called for a middle ground between ideas defined as someone's property and those who say all innovations should be shared freely in society. Open standards can accelerate innovation and encourage cooperation between companies, he added.
Web-based tools where customers custom-build products and consumer-based business plans from companies such as eBay Inc. encourage innovation outside the walls of companies, Palmisano said.
"None of us is as innovative as all of us," he said. "In the coming years ... we will not longer look at intellectual property to be owned but we'll think of intellectual capital."
The report encourages U.S. companies to improve their competitive posture, but also looks for how the U.S. can cooperate with other nations, Palmisano said. If the U.S. will "actively engage with the entire global community," it can reduce terrorism threats, poverty and health problems, he said.
"America's leadership doesn't mean instead of (other countries), it means we lead the world to a better place," he added.
The report is available at http://www.compete.org/pdf/NII_Final_Report.pdf.