This 4th of July, the 235th anniversary of the launch of our great country, we celebrate the creative spirit of our forefathers who came together to form a nation that valued freedom, democracy and innovation.
Our founding fathers, many of them inventors in their own right like Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, understood that innovation was a key to the pursuit of happiness and the economic success of a fledgling America. These forefathers envisioned the hope and opportunity that democracy could deliver to all its citizens, and also had the pragmatic foresight to adopt the laws that made those visions a reality – like adopting a patent protection act in 1790 that, just two months after it was passed, Thomas Jefferson remarked had “given a spring of invention beyond [his] conception.”
That “spring of invention” has changed the world in ways our founding fathers could never have imagined: from Ben Franklin’s bifocals to NASA’s Hubble telescope; from Thomas Jefferson’s advocacy of the first U.S. patent system to the Internet – a quintessential example of American innovation.
Yet the framework of a government that valued life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has endured, and indeed its people have been enriched by the innovations it has fostered.
For in the U.S., those innovations are not only inventing and marketing the latest high-tech gadgets. Innovation has created the opportunity to serve the greater good: to feed our families, to protect the health of our children and to provide more meaningful lives for our elderly.
President Obama, continuing the U.S. tradition of visionary leaders, on his recent trip to Latin America recognized the common heritage and expanding connections between the U.S. and Latin America and emphasized that innovation plays a key role in advancing the shared prosperity of all Americans in this hemisphere.
I am delighted that this spirit of innovation invigorates our partnership with Costa Rica.
In promoting clean, renewable energy to power economic growth, we are working with EARTH University and INBio – two centers of innovation in Costa Rica – to develop smart grid technology. We have partnered with the University of Costa Rica and the Ministry of Science and Technology to open an Energy Efficiency Center where we will share best practices and sponsor training to help Costa Rica reach its goal of carbon-neutral growth by 2021.
To fulfill President Obama’s vision of increased science exchanges, we are sending Costa Rican high school science students to the U.S. National Science Foundation’s summer camp and, in just a few months, we will collaborate with Costa Rican innovator Roberto Sasso and his TEDx event for students by bringing 17-year-old Caroline Moore from the U.S. to speak to her Costa Rican peers with her story of being the youngest person to find a supernova, using good math skills and a backyard telescope.
Innovation is spreading the benefits of new technology to populations that haven’t benefited from it yet. In this 50th anniversary year of the Peace Corps, we find Peace Corps volunteers in Costa Rica helping rural communities install solar panels, using biogas collectors as an extra source of energy, and training senior citizens how to use the Internet for lifelong learning.
Another innovative step forward for the U.S. Embassy: We invite everyone to join us for the first broadcast via Livestream of the embassy’s Independence Day Reception. Log on to www.livestream.com/usembassy on July 1 from 2 to 4 p.m., see the ceremony, and share your comments and stories via the live chat. Be a part of our innovation history as we expand Ben Franklin’s town square, where neighbors gathered to exchange news and chat with friends, to the global village of virtual communities, and celebrate the 4th of July with friends around the world.
Happy 4th of July!
Anne Slaughter Andrew
U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica