Obama suggested increasing U.S. investment in R&D, a good and welcome step. But what will really determine U.S. competitiveness in the global ideas market isn't the money we can pour into the system. It's the strength of the system itself — the social, political, and cultural institutions that shape ideas from start to finish. As long as the U.S. maintains its comparative advantage — an open and flexible culture and a web of institutions, attitudes, and relationships that move ideas from the lab to the marketplace — there's no reason why the future isn't in its grasp.