This year’s election season has been full of sound bites, scandal, and a decent amount of finger pointing, but amid the drama, the candidates have been very quiet on subjects like science, technology and how they would help foster innovation in the US and beyond.
Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is now weighing in on this year’s elections, calling on candidates to begin building long-term solutions to pressing problems like climate change and global health.
In a 1,500 word piece on his Gates Notes blog, Gates dismissed the idea that innovation should be left solely to the private sector. Instead, he argued for government support of research, opening the door for innovations based on those findings.
He also laid out the challenges he feels are most important for the next generation of political leaders to grapple:
- Provide everyone on earth with affordable energy without contributing to climate change.
- Develop a vaccine for HIV and a cure for neurodegenerative diseases.
- Protect the world from future health epidemics, which might be more infectious than Ebola and more deadly than Zika.
- Give every student and teacher new tools so all students get a world-class education.
“I hope our leaders seize these world-changing opportunities by investing in great research institutions, which translate into big opportunities for innovators,” he said.
Gates pointed out that innovations including the microchip and the internet were only made possible by extensive government research. And while he didn’t endorse a particular candidate, he was clear that candidates who support this kind of private-public collaboration would have his support.
“As U.S. voters decide which candidates they want to elect to fill national, state, and local offices, and as many countries around the world undergo similar political transitions, I think we should consider what kind of leaders can drive the innovations we need,” he said.