By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S Department of Commerce delivered to Congress on Friday a comprehensive report on “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States.”

The report serves as a call to arms, highlighting bipartisan priorities to sustain and promote American innovation and economic competitiveness.

The report makes three important findings: Federal investments in research, education and infrastructure were critical building blocks for American economic competitiveness, business expansion and job creation in the last century; failures to properly invest in, and have comprehensive strategies for, those areas have eroded America’s competitive position; and, in a constrained budgetary environment, prioritizing support for these pillars is imperative for America’s economic future and will provide a strong return on investment for the U.S. taxpayer.

Speaking before an event at the Center for American Progress (CAP), Commerce Secretary John Bryson highlighted the important role innovation plays in the nation’s economy.

“This is a topic of pivotal importance,” Bryson said. “Our ability to innovate as a nation will determine what kind of economy – what kind of country – our children and grandchildren will inherit, and whether it’s a country that holds the same promise for them as it did for our parents and grandparents.”

The report addresses a diverse range of topics and policy options including tax policy; the general business climate in the U.S.; barriers to setting up new firms; trade policy, including export promotion; the effectiveness of federal R&D policy; intellectual property regimes in the U.S. and abroad; the health of the manufacturing sector; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.

The report was mandated as part of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010.

COMPETES underscores the importance of education in STEM fields. For instance, women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.

Some other key findings of the report include research, support for manufacturing, and infrastructure.

For instance, the report recommends increasing federal funding for basic research at universities and research centers. It also recommends a tax credit be enhanced and extended for private-sector R&D to give companies appropriate incentives to innovate and improve the way basic research is transferred from the lab into commercial products.

The report also touches on a number of other areas such as the benefits of regional clusters, the Startup America Initiative, the National Export Initiative, corporate tax reform and the importance of intellectual property protection.

The full report, as well as additional resources, can be found online at www.commerce.gov/competes.

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.