When Bill Gates Talks About American Innovation, You Listen

The philanthropist and business titan wants politics to focus on innovation.

by Kastalia Medrano
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Many celebrities have weighed in on the nuttiness that is the 2016 election cycle, with varying degrees of relevance. Today, Microsoft co-founder and multi-hyphenate Bill Gates took to Reuters to pen a love letter to what he says he hopes will be a focal point for everyone in November, no matter their preferred candidate or platform: American innovation. This time, at least, the political message is coming from someone more than qualified to speak on it.

This is the man who brought us Microsoft in 1975, and thereby the personal computer revolution. Under Gates, the company’s control and influence of the market in the 1990s was pretty much total. It’s been a veritable stream of innovation from the beginning, introducing one version of Windows after another. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the charity organization he and his wife founded in 2000, has focused heavily on innovating in the health sphere in the developing world. (It’s also the wealthiest such organization on the planet.)

As he’s become less and less involved with Microsoft in recent years, his energies have increasingly shifted from innovation in tech to innovation in global health and eradicating poverty. The foundation has tackled everything from tropical diseases to agricultural development to expanding access to libraries in third-world countries. He’s also authored numerous books on business.

Gates once told Rolling Stone that if he “could wave a wand and fix one thing, it’d be political deadlock, the education system or health care costs. One of those three, I don’t know which.”

In the Reuters blog, Gates sites America’s history of innovative leaders and pioneering achievements in technology and industry. He notes that government funding is what’s allowed our nation to conduct the cutting-edge research and produce the new technologies that it does, and that pushes us to focus on health and clean energy.

“By the end of this summer,” Gates writes, “the political parties will have chosen their leaders and will start looking ahead to the November election. The nominees will lay out their vision for America and their agenda for achieving it. These visions will probably have more differences than similarities. But I hope we can all agree that, no matter how you see America’s future, there will always be an essential role for innovation.”

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