By Mike Dodd, Dioltas Advisory Board Chairman
Yes, you read that right. Indiana is poised for a tremendous economic boost that could have positive fiscal ramifications for decades to come. As unlikely as it may seem, the federal government is behind it. It’s the result of bipartisan legislation called the US Innovation and Competition Act co-authored by Senator Todd Young. It could mean billions of dollars in funding for Indiana industry and the establishment of a technology hub in the state.
I know what you’re thinking, government and a free market usually don’t jibe. And I agree—typically I’m not a fan of government funding for private industry. There is one notable exception, national security, and that’s what’s at stake here. Our adversaries, primarily the Chinese, have eclipsed U.S. dominance in many high-tech areas including microelectronics, hypersonics and quantum computing, just to name a few. This legislation aims at course-correcting and putting the U.S. back on top. Frankly, Indiana needs to be a part of this, as the acclaimed author, H. Jackson Brown, Jr. pointed out “There’s nothing more expensive than a missed opportunity.” We can’t afford to miss out.
At its core, the Act would allocate $10 billion to building 10 technology hubs around the country. These centers of excellence would bring together the best and brightest in industry, government and academia to solve the prickliest national security problems and do it quickly. Indiana is uniquely poised to form one of these hubs, mainly because we’re already doing much of this important work.
Just look at the collaboration between our two major public universities, IU and Purdue. While rivals on the basketball court, they work closely when it comes to research in the areas of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Add Rose-Hulman and Notre Dame and it’s a powerful combination of brainpower.
Our state is also home to Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division (NSWC Crane), headquarters of the Joint Hypersonics Transition Office (JHTO), working every day to make hypersonic flight (Mach 5-10) commonplace for our nation. Department of Defense scientists at NSWC Crane are also working closely with Intel and other industry partners to develop secure microelectronics for use in defense systems initially, but ultimately this technology for domestic microchip manufacturing will permeate into the private sector for the benefit of all Americans.
All of these entities are connected with a high-speed fiber network called I-Light, which allows researchers at one location to work, in real-time, with their counterparts at another location in a secure environment.
Add to the mix the Indiana 5G Zone (IN5GZ), a one-of-a-kind real-world laboratory testing the applications of 5G cell technology to power smart cities, logistics and advanced manufacturing.
Underpinning and supporting these organizations and initiatives is the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) which consistently repeats the mantra of Governor Eric Holcomb to “triple defense spending” in Indiana by 2025 to more than $10 billion.
Indeed, Indiana could benefit greatly from the US Innovation and Competition Act and the United States’ national security could benefit from the fruits of our greatest resource: our people. Hoosiers are blazing a trail when it comes to pushing the technological envelope and creating revolutionary new ideas with real-world applications.
In the Marine Corps, we used to say, “lead, follow, or get out of the (damn) way!” Indiana is already leading and we need to keep it up to combat the Chinese and ensure our nation remains a dominant force for decades to come.