Since the end of World War II, the United States has been an undisputed global leader in innovation.
This position has given the country an advantage in dictating how technology is adopted and setting the basic standards for its use. However, the U.S. is at risk of losing its place as the leading innovator to Asia, especially China and South Korea.
The rise of China
The largest competitor to the American innovation is China. Over the past few years, China has heavily focused on developing emerging technologies such as blockchain and AI. While PwC survey respondents viewed the U.S. as the most advanced territory developing blockchain today, they believe that in the next three to five years, the leader will be China.
There are nearly three times as many blockchain-related patents filed in China than the next closest country. China’s spending on blockchain technology will exceed $2 billion by 2023 according to a report from American market intelligence firm IDC. Even local governments are pledging funds to blockchain projects.
All this activity and interest in blockchain technology has come about because the Chinese government openly supported it.
Blockchain development became a national priority when it was included in the country’s “13th Five Year Plan” back in 2016. China President Xi Jinping reinforced its importance to the country’s future during a speech in late October of last year, stating:
“We must take blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies, clarify the main directions, increase investment, focus on a number of key technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain and industrial innovation.”
He also stressed that “it is necessary to lead the standard setting and right to speak in the world.”
While China is certainly in the best position to lead blockchain innovation, it’s not the only country that could outpace the U.S. this coming decade.
The Korean market also has potential to become a leader for blockchain adoption in the world. The country is pioneering blockchain adoption in many areas of large business, startups and government. The Ministry of Science and Technology in South Korea has launched initiatives for training blockchain developers, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to invest over $1 billion in blockchain and fintech startups by 2022.
While other countries are gaining on its position, the U.S. can still take action to keep its place as the leading global innovator. Through a combination of government intervention, investment and partnering with both private and public enterprises, the U.S. can support young industries like blockchain, fostering its growth and setting the standards for its use.
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