Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett urged the tech industry and nations to 'innovate and invest' to spur economic development and solve global challenges. Calling innovation and technology 'the backbone of the modern economy,' Barrett told an audience at CeBIT 2009 that investments in information and communications technology (ICT) will help ensure economic prosperity as the world undergoes a digital transformation. 'There are three gauges nations can tune to compete,' said Barrett as he kicked off the world's largest technology trade show. 'Investing in good education produces smart people. Investing in research and development produces smart ideas. And, creating the right environment in which smart people can develop smart ideas. These steps would stimulate economic growth, jobs and new opportunities including future collaborations among private industry, government and academia.'
Barrett's conclusions are drawn from observations visiting more than 30 countries a year as a 'technology ambassador' and as chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development. Countries that invest wisely in technology are better equipped to deal with those challenges, he said, while countries that ignore or delay such investments are increasingly likely to find themselves at a global disadvantage. 'In the current global economic climate, thinking long-term is more important than ever,' said Barrett. 'Today, we can lay the groundwork for growth. Many nations and businesses try to save their way out of a recession. It is much better to invest our way out.' Barrett believes that investing in new ideas and inventions not only stimulates job creation, but also increases productivity, leads to new forms of energy and smarter energy consumption, improves health care and medicines, and gives consumers more benefits for less cost. Barrett stressed the need to invest in education as the foundation of a strong economy, especially as developed nations shift from production societies to knowledge-based ones. He also said developing countries can build on that foundation by accelerating the use of computers, the Internet and other technologies in classrooms so young people are prepared to compete for careers in the 21st century. Investments in education are especially imperative given that more than 75 million primary-age children throughout the developing world are not in school and need help getting an education, according to Barrett.