Chopra said the administration is particularly focused on the energy and health IT sectors, both of which received billions in grants through the Recovery Act. He said those and other industries that have yet to feel the full benefits of modernization could be a "tremendous opportunity" for innovation by American companies.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said one factor dampening innovation is the increasing regulatory burden on private companies.
"Too often the regulatory system has become an impediment to innovation," Warner said, citing the energy sector as an example where "well-meaning environmental legislation has prevented innovation."
Warner also said the patent office needs to upgrade the caliber and tenure of its personnel. Chopra said the quality of the patent process is high but the three-year backlog has a harmful impact on those waiting. He expressed optimism about the possibility of bipartisan patent reform legislation and said the office is currently undergoing a modernization program that holds a great deal of promise.