Earlier this summer, our CEO Arvind Krishna announced our Science Forward campaign, which calls for a re-invigorated approach to science and technology with increased investment in research and innovation to meet our biggest challenges.
The results from a new global survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) confirms that a Science Forward agenda is not just an IBM idea—it’s what citizens around the world expect of businesses and governments, around the world. We found that based on a global survey of more than 14,500 adults, we have a shared perspective and approach: Our challenges may be greater and more complex than ever before, but with the right resources and investments, we are equipped to meet the challenges of today while preparing for those of tomorrow.
Confidence in the power of science and technology
The overwhelming majority of adults surveyed are optimistic about the power of science and technology to drive positive change. It may come as no surprise that 88% of those surveyed globally believe advances in science and technology are critical to helping make the world a better place. The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines has played a large part in that high statistic.
Nearly 4 out of 5 (79%) respondents indicated the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines increased their confidence in science.
While most adults surveyed are confident technology broadly can help address many of the most pressing issues we face today, the greatest optimism is in emerging tech such as AI, robotics, and semiconductor technology. For example, 86% of respondents believe AI will help us solve the most pressing challenges facing the human race and societies today. However, to support new discoveries in science and technology, we must dramatically increase investment in research.
How business leaders can support science and innovation
Business leaders should prioritize supporting collaborations between industry, academia and government. From the Manhattan Project to last year’s High Performance Computing Consortium, swiftly applying the resources of public-private partners can help us mitigate times of crisis. Establishing a permanent structure ensures our communities are prepared to mobilize swiftly, assembling human and technological resources to combat our next threat.
Business leaders should also look to take a Science Forward approach to adopting new technologies like AI, hybrid cloud and quantum computing. These technologies will be core to the future of computing, and we need a strategy for building a robust infrastructure and using these new technologies’ roles as catalysts for economic growth. To facilitate new discoveries that benefit our economy, security, the global scientific community and more, we must expand access to quantum computing, in particular, to a more diverse set of researchers across the world.
We must also focus on building the future pipeline of skills in science and technology, which requires that business leaders support their current employees to reskill and upskill in critical areas, as well as invest in a diverse workforce of the future. Programs like SkillsBuild offer free learning, support, and resources to foster STEM skills to people of all ages.
It is also important that our ambitions and goals are matched with sound policies that will create a lasting impact. To that end, businesses should continue to provide their perspective on legislation to spur innovation and advance science. The The IBV Science Forward report showed that 58% of respondents believe the U.S. is leading the world in science and technology innovation, today. Nearly half (45%) believe the U.S. is most prepared to address the greatest challenges facing societies today. And 89% of U.S. adults believe it's important for the country to encourage public-private partnerships.U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which is making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives, is a good example of legislation that offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to refocus our institutions on innovation, spur economic growth and job creation, and increase collaboration across scientific communities and industries.
With the acceleration of science and technology, our challenges have only become more difficult and more unique. While we can’t change the past, what we do now can mean the difference between living on a sustainable planet or one beyond repair.
Whether it’s extreme weather and climate change, another health crisis, or food insecurity, IBM is committed to advancing the scientific research that can address and prevent these challenges. Only by making science a sustained priority will we be prepared to tackle the next crisis, whatever it may be, and accelerate discovery that spurs prosperity.
Read the IBV survey results.