Ambassador James D. Melville, Jr. Remarks at Interdisciplinary Seminar
Thank you, Professor Nazarenko. You have been a good friend to the U.S. Embassy community for many years, and we are grateful for this collaboration. I would like to present you with this certificate of appreciation in recognition of your support. I look forward to continued partnership.
It is an honor to be here today among so many esteemed doctors and researchers.
Since I arrived in Estonia in December, I’ve been greatly impressed by the country’s innovative spirit. I take delight in bringing American visitors to your e-Estonia showroom, where they are amazed by the possibility of voting online or doing their taxes online in 5 minutes. And Estonia’s strong reputation for technological innovation is global. Who hasn’t heard of Skype or TransferWise these days?
This type of innovative spirit extends beyond government and commercial activities to cutting edge scientific research. I commend you for taking part in this seminar to tackle the global challenge of dementia. The facts are pretty stark. An estimated 47 million people are living with dementia worldwide, and one new case develops every 3.2 seconds. This is a problem that touches countless families, and it puts a huge burden on family and country finances. The estimated worldwide cost of dementia is over 818 billion dollars.
This morning I would like to share a bit about the U.S. approach to this enormous challenge.
To begin with, we see a clear role for government to invest in the building blocks of innovation, such as education, research, and physical and digital infrastructure. A strong foundation for innovation also requires the right policy and regulatory environment to stimulate private-sector investment. This includes patent-protections, a free and open Internet, and policies to help startups raise capital.
The U.S. research and development infrastructure, both public and private, is respected worldwide. However, we recognize that maintaining a dynamic innovation system requires vigilance. In 2011 President Obama released a National Innovation Strategy which emphasizes the need for investments in science, education and infrastructure.