Enjoy Google or your iPhone? Thank government.

iphone_editorial use onlyBreakthrough magazine published two eye-opening articles this summer that spotlight the public sector’s role in fostering technological innovation. The first piece documents the vital role that the public sector played in the imaginative beginnings of some of today’s most important technological innovations, including the iconic iPhone.

“Think of the Internet, biotechnology, electronics, photonics, materials science and nanotechnology — all the crucial technologies of our age. Go back further to oil, rail, the airlines and nuclear energy. None of these would be as developed as they are, and some would hardly exist, without the founding vision and directed action of government agencies.”

The next piece reviews a new book titled “the Entrepreneurial State” by Mariana Mazzucato, in which she offers compelling evidence in support of the idea that risk-taking research and innovation are fundamentally a public phenomenon. Here’s what the article had to say about the iPhone’s origins:

“Perhaps Mazzucato’s most stunning evidence centers on Apple’s (AAPL) hugely successful family of iProducts – the iPhone, iPad, and iPod – which are usually held up as crowning achievements of private entrepreneurship. But Mazzucato patiently shows that 12 different technologies that were indispensable to the creation of these products were developed through public research and development efforts that involved conscious and deliberate initiatives by public employees to get these technologies into the marketplace.”

The article’s author goes on to point out that many of the programs that play a role in fostering technological innovation are being scaled back because of federal budget cuts.

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