U.S. won't lose its tech edge, says Microsoft's Mundie

He doubts U.S. will be outdistanced by India, China

BANGALORE, India -- The U.S. still has a tremendous innovation capability and is unlikely to lose it to countries such as India and China, Craig Mundie, Microsoft Corp.'s chief technology officer and senior vice president for advanced strategies and policies, said today.

"I am not that concerned that innovation in some large-scale sense will suddenly and abruptly shift from one part of the world to another," Mundie told reporters when asked whether he was worried that the U.S. was losing its edge in technology and innovation to developing countries.

Mundie was in Bangalore in connection with the formal inauguration of a research facility for Microsoft Research Lab India Pvt Ltd., one of six research facilities run by the company.

A number of analysts and executives have warned that the U.S. could be losing its technology and innovation edge to countries like India and China. The U.S. government must increase its funding for research and development and reform the nation's education system, members of the Semiconductor Industry Association said in March. Intel Corp.'s chairman, Craig Barrett, called R&D spending and educated workers the foundations for innovation and creativity in the U.S.

Innovation will happen in India because the country has well-trained people in science and engineering, Mundie said, and it will spread as their ability to build and form businesses in India improves. "To do that, more progress is going to be required in intellectual property protection," he said. "New models of capital formation and venture capital availability will have to grow up to a level higher than they are today to see this innovation really come forward."

Innovation is likely to increase in emerging economies like India because the large number of engineers that are being educated creates a capacity to invent, Mundie said. "But it is always a challenge to commercialize those inventions," he added.

India has done a spectacular job of producing capability in the software services market, but the country has yet to see the emergence of software businesses that address specific market requirements, Mundie said.

The proportion of undergraduate students pursuing a specific computer science curriculum in India is too small relative to demand, according to Mundie. "There probably needs to be some curriculum expansion to train people in the business of software as much as in the practice of computer science or software development itself," he added.

The mismatch between demand and supply in India is particularly high in Ph.D.s in computer science, according to Mundie.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon