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Shapiro: CEA’s Mission To Foster Innovation


Innovation is America’s best strategy for
resolving its economic challenges, and the Consumer
Electronics Association (CEA) has adopted as its prime
mission the fostering of innovation, CEA president/CEO
Gary Shapiro told a packed audience during his keynote
address at International CES.

Many of the ideas in espoused by Shapiro in his speech
appear in his new book “The Comeback: How Innovation
Will Restore the American Dream.”

Whereas the main goal of some trade associations is securing
government favors, “CEA’s cause is the cause of innovation”
and thus the “long-term health of the U.S. economy,”
he said.

For that reason, CEA has made CES an affordable launch
venue for small startups to bring awareness of their innovations
to investors and the press, Shapiro said. Past innovations
launched at CES have “fueled our economy” and
made people’s lives better, he said.

The “culture of freedom and innovation” in the U.S., however,
“is under threat,” Shapiro warned. In the past, U.S. innovation
has been fostered by free trade, an entrepreneurial system
with flexible workplaces, a system that rewards those who
succeed, and government intrusion with a light touch, among
many other things, including a disdain for the status quo, Shapiro
said. Unfortunately, Shapiro continued, “we definitely shifted
a bit on this,” pointing to a lack of new free trade agreements,
more regulatory control, and government overspending.

CEA is doing its part to promote innovation by fighting
such entrenched interests as TV broadcasters that are
“squatting on our broadband future” by holding onto spectrum
that could be used for high-speed wireless-broadband
service, Shapiro said.

CES is also doing its part this year, he stressed. This
year’s CES is exhibiting “more innovation and cause for celebration
than any event in our history,” he said, pointing to
a variety of innovations such as connected TVs. Connected
devices will be a key contributor to future innovation, he
said, forecasting that by 2014, more than 70 percent of CE
products will be connected directly to the Internet. “CES is
the place where innovators want to be,” he added.

Shapiro expects CE sales to grow 3.5 percent in 2011 to
$186 billion. It will be a “good year,” he said.