This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.
Guest blog post by Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA
Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens, USA
Today, as part of the Select USA Investment Summit, I had the honor of joining an impressive group of business leaders, international investors and experts for an in-depth conversation about how innovation and R&D is helping to fuel private sector investment, and why the United States is poised for tremendous growth.
I’d like to applaud U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker for bringing together more than 2,500 participants representing 60 countries, drawing international attention to the U.S. as a premier country to invest in at such an optimal time. International companies representing countries from around the globe, such as Germany, contribute largely to Federal Direct Investment (FDI) and find the U.S. an attractive place to invest. And Siemens does too.
To give you a little bit of background, Siemens is one of the world’s oldest and biggest companies. Having been in the U.S. for over 150 years, we currently employ nearly 50,000 people throughout all 50 states and Puerto Rico. We have more than 70 manufacturing sites in the U.S. and invest more than $1 billion annually in R&D here.
The U.S. has become an innovation engine for Siemens. It is not only our largest market, but is also an extremely vital production location, one of our most important research centers and a key base from which we export to the rest of the world. Siemens has invested over $35 billion in America over the past decade, including over $10 billion in the past year alone.
So why invest in the U.S.? As a global company, when we are looking for a new location to invest or to manufacture, we consider many factors and there are several which are unique to the U.S. market, giving it a leg up on the competition.
- Strong ecosystem for innovation and R&D
- World-class colleges and universities
- Leadership in software and the digital economy
It’s clear that the primary trait that sets the U.S. apart as a unique and unrivaled place to invest is an undeniable spirit of innovation. The U.S. has an environment of innovation, collaboration and talent that is unmatched anywhere in the world.
Siemens is tapping into this innovation in many ways, including through our venture capital arm that has invested in more than 170 companies and 40 VC funds across industries—all with an eye towards seeding innovation that can transform manufacturing and industry.
The type of manufacturing where the U.S. is truly advantaged is advanced manufacturing. This type of manufacturing plays to unique U.S. strengths – namely, innovation.
Nobody has better colleges and universities, national labs and access to leading innovators, and being in America enables manufacturers to be close to leading markets, with well-trained workers, leading R&D, a strong but aging infrastructure and government policies that encourage investment. In addition, the U.S. now has access to some of the lowest cost energy and electricity in the world. All of this makes it possible to build high-end products in America as cost-competitively as anywhere else.
And that’s not even mentioning America’s biggest advantage, which is software. Software is taking over bigger and bigger chunks of the economy. After all, the world’s largest bookseller today – Amazon – is a software company. The world’s largest video service by number of subscribers – Netflix – is a software company. The world’s largest music companies – from Apple to Pandora to Spotify – are software companies.
Just think of all the things we used to do in person that we now do online. Banking. Shopping. Studying. Movies. Books. Television. Travel. The list goes on.
Software is the heart of the digital economy. What we are living through right now is a software revolution that is collapsing the boundaries between the real and online worlds – turning the global economy into a virtual economy.
This intersection of information and industry has the potential to add $10-15 trillion to global GDP over the next two decades while revolutionizing how we live. And as the long-time leader in software development, the U.S. has a competitive advantage. This increasingly digital world offers a tremendous opportunity and it’s clear that the U.S. will lead the way.
However, in order to capture this moment of opportunity and drive innovation even faster here in the U.S., we need to:
- Continue to develop a skilled workforce for this increasingly digital economy
- Revitalize our aging infrastructure
- Reduce trade barriers through international agreements like Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)
Now is the time for the U.S. to seize this moment of incredible potential.
The real opportunity here isn’t just the next IPO, or the development of the next buzzworthy app. The real opportunity is harnessing the intrinsic power of data to design, build and maintain the industrial technology that drives our daily lives. To make real things. Things that “think” and adapt to changing circumstances in real time; things that change how our cities are powered, how our industries manufacture, how our trains travel, how our surgeons operate; things that make our lives better in countless different ways.
As this data is analyzed and reveals trends and insights that have never been available to us before, it’s clear that there will be a profound impact on the economy. You can call it a data revolution. You can call it a digital revolution. But here’s what it really is: asoftware revolution. And with the U.S. generating 70 percent of software for industry, for Siemens – in this sector as in so many others – all roads lead to America.