Over the past few weeks, a chorus of voices from around the world has started to sound like a warning buzzer for U.S. competitive and innovation strategy. Thomas L. Friedman, writing in the New York Times, reported back from Denmark that that country has succeeded in levying a susbstantial energy tax (deemed politically impossible here), and applying the proceeds to renewable energy innovation, development, and deployment.

Bruce Nussbaum from Business Week completed a tour of Asia, impressed everywhere he visited with the attention being paid to design as a critical innovation element at all levels (including national policy), leading to what he called “Designomics” in his speech to the Design Korea 2009 International Conference: “The global economy is emerging from the Great Recession… with a very different shape, a very different trajectory and a very different set of growth engines.  Design, with a capital “D” is also emerging from the recent crisis, with a very different form and function. A design-based business model and a design-based economy provide the best new opportunities for creating value, growth, revenues, profits, jobs and wealth for the decades ahead.”

A new book entitled When China Rules the World: the End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, by Martin Jacques, is profound, serious, and convincing (and, if that’s not scary enough, according to Nussbaum China gets innovation and design). Meanwhile, down under, Australia’s Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (check that title again, it’s important) has published Powering Ideas: An Innovation Agenda for the 21st Century(pdf here): “Tough times demand creative solutions…. Innovation is not an abstraction. Nor is it an end in itself. It is how we make a better Australia, and contribute to making a better world — a prosperous, fair and decent world, in which everyone has the chance of a fulfilling life.” Well said, Minister Carr.

There are themes emerging from these voices, even if the melody is not yet clear. We at SFIP greet the challenges of a new year, a new decade, and a new era reaffirmed in our intention to support the development of a genuine, forward looking, national innovation strategy; and we greet the attendant opportunities with the initial efforts of the Santa Fe Innovation Park as a national innovation center, pioneering this strategy’s design and implementation.

Happy New Year.