Harris Eyre, M.D., Ph.D., Steve Carnevale, Erin Smith, Dan Mannix, Shuo Chen, J.D., Michael Berk, M.D., Ph.D., Ryan Abbott, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., Walter Dawson, D.Phil., Theo Edmonds, J.D., MHA, MFA, Jo-An Occhipinti, Ph.D., Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, MPH, William Hynes, D.Phil., Yoed N. Kenett, Ph.D., Hannah M. Merseal, M.S., Eric A. Storch, Ph.D., Danish Munir, Francois Veron, Barnabas J. Gilbert, M.D, Marion Leboyer, M.D., Ph.D., James T. Hackett, Upali Nanda, Ph.D., Stephen T. C. Wong, Ph.D., Ernestine Fu, Ph.D., Michelle Tempest, M.D., Helen Lavretsky, M.D., Agustin Ibanez, Ph.D., Robert Bilder, Ph.D., Inez Jayapurwala, Jeff Krentz, Faye Sahai, Quazi Haque, M.D., Jair Soares, M.D., Ph.D., Kacie Kelly, Chinmayi Balusu, Ariane Tom, Ph.D., Shekhar Saxena, M.D., Verónica Podence Falcão, M.D., Kevin Winters, Laura-Joy Boulos, Ph.D., Kirti Ranchod, M.D., Laura Murray, Ph.D., Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., Robert Lundin, M.D., Grace Wickerson, Rym Ayadi, Ph.D., Luis R. Solís-Tarazona, M.D., Dapo Tomori, M.D., Rachel A. Meidl, LP.D., CHMM, Patrick Brennan, Laura Booi, Ph.D., Francesca Farina, Ph.D., Marco Mohwinckel, Gail Christine Gannon, MSPH, MSPH, Julia Scott, Ph.D., Maria Castello, Ph.D., Roni Reiter-Palmon, Ph.D., Barbara Handelin, Ph.D., Chee Ng, M.D., Ph.D., Mitchell S. V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D., Paweł Świeboda, Lynne Corner, Ph.D., Michael Platt, Ph.D., Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., and Jonathan Rosand, M.D., M.Sc.
Brain health is a critical aspect of human well-being, affecting cognitive abilities, socioemotional stability, and overall quality of life. However, the growing prevalence of brain disorders is taking a steep economic toll. Mental health disorders alone are estimated to cost the global economy $5 trillion per year, and this is projected to rise to $16 trillion by 2030. Similarly, every year, dementia costs the global economy more than $1.3 trillion, a number that is set to increase to $2.8 trillion by 2030.
Brain health also plays an increasingly critical role in an economy predicated on “brain capital” (which encompasses an individual’s social, emotional, and cognitive resources). The world is increasingly relying on brain capital, where a premium is put on brain skills and brain health. In Appendix 1, we outline key brain capital challenges and opportunities across various sectors. The economic burden of brain and mental health-related disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and even long COVID) — along with the need to fuel creativity and innovation so the U.S. can economically outperform near-peer competitors — has recently prompted the need for an innovative brain science-inspired industrial strategy. Fortuitously, new technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, extended reality, and synthetic biology have created the necessary preconditions for advanced products and services to be scaled across the economy. But a powerful industrial strategy will be critical to boosting America’s competitiveness, creativity, well-being, and economy.
When NASA launched the goal of going to the moon in the early 1960s, few thought such an achievement was possible. Similarly, although establishing a brain science-inspired industry may seem unachievable, with a mission-like approach akin to NASA’s, involving multiple government agencies and public-private collaboration, it can be done. Through a “brain capital mission,” we can accelerate the process of unlocking the mysteries and potential of the human brain.
Here we outline the importance of a brain capital industrial strategy and how it can revolutionize the understanding, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of brain and mental health disorders and boost brain health. We applaud prior work by the European Brain Council on a European Mission Brain, and we aim to extend it by exploring global applications and considering areas beyond health, such as education, labor markets, and industrial policy. Such a mission approach would be able to bend the curve on the multi-billion dollar cost of this group of disorders and stimulate a new wave of brain capital technologies and novel brain capital investment mechanisms and organizations. We define brain capital technologies as neuroscience-inspired technologies addressing the confluence of mental health, neurology, education, future of work, creativity, and brain performance, particularly in late life and early childhood. We believe there is a need to consider a brain capital mission where a series of neuroscience-inspired sub-missions are conceptualized and launched across sectors and supported through cooperation of the public and private sectors.
We previously explored the transformative role of artificial intelligence (AI) in our economy. There is a general consensus that AI is going to change how we do almost everything — from how we think to where we apply our mental energy. It will be critical to implement the right policy infrastructure to ensure that brain science and AI can continue to advance in ways that improve society and complement the brain science-inspired industry that we envision.
Throughout this paper, we argue that a brain capital mission and the aligned brain capital industrial strategy will boost economic resilience by stimulating creativity and entrepreneurship, as well as reducing the economic burden of brain and mental disorders. The capacity for brain capital technology entrepreneurship will be enhanced by further basic and translational science breakthroughs and by supportive policy settings.
Improved brain capital would simultaneously be a significant enabler of economic growth and prosperity, life expectancy, social assets such as social cohesion and social productivity, and even national security.
The 7 Key Steps of a Brain Capital Industrial Policy
Brian Deese, the immediate former national economic council director for the White House, recently noted that a modern industrial strategy is “an economic resilience and capacity strategy.” He went on to emphasize “investments in our industrial capacity will leave our economy better positioned to weather future shocks — and to help all Americans thrive.”
Relatedly, the recent G7 communique in Hiroshima highlighted a new lens for thinking about economic security and economic resilience, involving three intertwined strands: a renewed appetite for an industrial strategy, more resilient rather than efficient trading and investment arrangements, and more use of government intervention in strategic sectors to counter or contain Chinese leadership, military or otherwise.
Along these lines, we define a brain capital industrial policy as a public sector strategy that focuses on building economic resilience through an emphasis on cultivating citizens’ brain health and brain skills to contribute to an innovative and thriving economy. Our definition includes the following seven components, as outlined in the rest of this paper:
- Developing and investing in brain capital technologies.
- Designing built environments that support brain capital.
- Utilizing novel financial incentives and innovations.
- Ensuring workforce preparedness.
- Leveraging a mission-oriented approach for brain capital.
- Articulating supportive policies.
- Coordinating within government.
Ultimately, with the likelihood of accelerating shocks in the coming decades (climate, political, information, financial, AI), a thriving brain capital industrial sector will provide widespread human and economic resilience to the U.S. and its allies.
Component 1: Developing and Investing in Brain Capital Technologies
The first component of a brain capital industrial strategy is the development of brain capital technologies. We define these as neuroscience-inspired technologies addressing the confluence of mental health and substance use, neurology, neuroscience, adolescence, education, the future of work, creativity and innovation, and brain performance, particularly in late life and early childhood (see Figure 1). These technologies span the “omics” (i.e., genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, etc.), digital therapeutics, artificial intelligence, robotics, and devices. They aim to improve the entire spectrum of care from prevention to screening, diagnosis, treatment, and continuing care. They can facilitate scale and equity (think apps and telehealth) along with personalization (think genetics). Brain performance technologies include those with the intent to optimize and augment healthy brain function. Further investing in and developing these kinds of technologies will help the U.S. to build a strong brain capital industrial policy by prioritizing the brain health and brain skills of its citizens.
Figure 1 — Brain Capital Technology Overview
One recent example of an approach that relies on brain capital technology is outlined in a report by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and Grey Matter Capital. The report summarizes major opportunities for child and youth behavioral health innovation. It notes opportunities such as expanding the adoption and use of child and youth behavioral health integrated care models, leveraging digital health tools to address existing workforce gaps and scale solutions, and expanding Texas’ strong existing telemedicine models to increase access to effective care. This market is estimated to represent a $26 billion opportunity by 2027, according to Telosity. Further research into these areas and application of these technologies in other domains will be key for advancing a brain capital industrial policy.
Brain Health as a Determinant of Brain and Mental Disorders
Brain capital technologies focus heavily on improving brain health and preventing mental disorders. A healthy brain is essential for maintaining cognitive function, emotional well-being, and preventing the development of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Factors that contribute to brain health include a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and social engagement. On the other hand, unhealthy lifestyle choices such as substance abuse, poor diet, and lack of physical activity can negatively impact brain health and increase the risk of developing brain and mental disorders. It is important to prioritize brain health to promote overall well-being and prevent the onset of these conditions. Brain capital technologies aim to find innovative ways to achieve this, and investing in these technologies and coordinating across technology areas will therefore be an important element of a successful brain capital industrial strategy.
Recently, a prototype “Brain Care Score” was outlined as a motivational, multidimensional tool for use in primary care. The Brain Care Score is a comprehensive tool designed to provide a simple motivating framework for claiming agency of one’s own health care and answer a question people might commonly ask: “What can I do to take good care of my brain, so that I don’t develop the dementia or stroke that my loved one suffered?”
The Brain Care Score includes 12 components, each a modifiable risk factor for at least one of the three most common noncommunicable diseases: dementia, stroke, and depression. Four are physical components (blood pressure, hemoglobin A1c, cholesterol, and body-mass index); five are lifestyle elements (nutrition, alcohol intake, smoking, physical activity, and sleep); and three are social factors (stress, relationships, and meaning in life). Patients are encouraged to increase their score, focusing sequentially on the components for which they are most motivated.
The applicability of the Brain Care Score further extends to cardiovascular health, as it incorporates all of the Life's Essential 8 — the American Heart Association's key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health. In addition, many of Brain Care Score components are linked to reductions in the risk of certain cancers, making it a practical resource that can serve as the cornerstone of an approach to preserving health and well-being over a lifetime.
Coordinating Technology Areas to Support a Successful Brain Capital Industrial Strategy
There are many examples of brain capital technologies in various fields. In Appendix 2, we outline a number of example startups and investors in the subcomponents of brain capital technology. These technologies all serve to optimize the health, well-being, and productivity of the population. Care must be taken to convene and align these different fields under the brain capital umbrella as these fields are otherwise largely disconnected and competitive. The purpose of the brain capital industrial strategy is to coordinate neuroscience-inspired areas for the formation of a larger, synergistic industry that’s fit for our modern economy.
Component 2: Designing Built Environments That Support Brain Capital
The cities and buildings we live in create the backdrop to our lives but are not always conducive to physical or mental fitness. Simple design principles like daylight, air quality, acoustics, access to nature, accessible sidewalks, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, opportunities for social connection, and access to housing, health care, parks, arts, and other amenities can go a long way toward enabling a brain-healthy society that supports brain capital. When layered with the right digital infrastructure, this can set communities up for harnessing brain capital.
The convergence of emerging digital technologies with those in the physical and biological spheres could play a central role in enabling a sustainable circular economy. Additionally, building systems have the incredible potential to leverage AI to learn and respond to human needs and balance them against climate objectives. The question is, how do we maximize the value of data, optimize the use of mobile telecommunications and cloud computing, and bring the internet of things (IoT) to life? Effectively, IoT represents the systems that will enable sensors deployed across various built environment systems and equipment to speak to one another using AI and machine-learning, thereby increasing both the volume and velocity of data movement and creating new opportunities to interconnect physical and brain operations.
Further, evidence-based design and neuro-architecture, which seek to better comprehend and positively influence the role of architecture on the human brain, are growing fields. Their development is supported by groups such as the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.
New collaborations, such as one between the Center for BrainHealth and HKS Architects, are also emerging to create brain-healthy workplaces that support key affordances of focus, collaboration, ideation, social connection, and rest. Some offices are serving as “Living Labs” to test the outcomes of a foundational brain-healthy workplace framework on both their health and skills.
Other research is already emerging to show these intersections. For example, on the UC San Diego Live-Learn campus, the co-location of living and learning programs in a health-based setting contributed to significantly lower depression rates reported among students, as well as stronger healthy-eating and mobility habits after moving to a new campus. See Figures 2 and 3 below.
Figure 2 — Aerial View of the UC San Diego Live-Learn Campus
Figure 3 — Strategic Considerations for the UC San Diego Live-Learn Campus
Another example of the linkage between the built environment and brain capital technologies comes from Baycrest, an academic health sciences center that provides a continuum of care for older adults. It offers independent living, assisted living, long-term care, and a post-acute hospital — all within one campus based in Toronto, Canada. The buildings at Baycrest are carefully designed by neuroscience-inspired architects. They are closely linked to the University of Toronto’s Rotman Research Institute. which focuses on research in aging and brain health and powers the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation.
Brain capital technology development and deployment can occur in people’s homes and remotely, but it can also occur within the context of existing workplace and civil structures. As such, careful consideration of “built infrastructure” is important when linking digital technologies and effectively deploying and implementing technologies into daily life.
Policymakers should consider and invest in the linkages between the built environment, new technologies and city-wide policies to further bolster citizens’ brain capital resources.
Component 3: Utilizing Novel Financial Incentives and Innovations
New approaches to funding and fueling brain capital technologies, brain capital-aligned venture capital funds, and the broader brain capital industrial strategy will be critical. To this effect, we recently wrote extensively on why brain capital is an important new investment opportunity. We also surveyed a range of financial mechanisms including venture philanthropy, impact investing, brain bonds, megafunds, tax and accounting frameworks, public-private partnerships, as well as new corporate structures such as B-Corps.
Brain health open innovation platforms were the topic of another recent paper from our group. Open innovation platforms allow the free flow of ideas, products, and services from the outside to the inside of an enterprise and vice versa, in order to remain competitive and innovative in a rapidly evolving field. Some of the benefits of open innovation platforms in brain health are: providing a turnkey solution to the talent gap by connecting experts from different domains and backgrounds; enabling due diligence, comparative analysis, and landscape scoping of existing and emerging technologies and solutions; and fostering disruptive innovations that can bring new products and services into the marketplace and advance the cause of brain health. The Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) is an example of such a platform that is aligned to a major academic health service and helps innovators develop, disseminate, scale, and promote adoption of promising innovations in the aging and brain health sector.
Various venture capital funds also hold significant promise for driving our brain capital industrial strategy. For example, Newfund Capital, a French American venture firm, and FondaMental Fondation, a mental health charity, have officially launched their new HEKA Venture Capital Fund. HEKA notes it invests “where tech meets brain science.” It plans to finance braintech startups that are connecting science and technology to bring “bliss and resilience” to people through solutions that leverage scientific results in the fields of skills development, neurology, nutrition, and psychiatry. HEKA is an impact fund built with the intent to increase positive externalities in the brain capital area by financing innovative companies that meet sustainability criteria and operate in the field of brain capital. HEKA falls under "Article 9" of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, which optimizes transparency for social impact. Over 80% of invested company's revenues will contribute to good health and well-being, as defined within the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, the UN aims to reduce by one-third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment by 2030, while promoting mental health and well-being.
A further example comes from Kooth, a digital youth mental health platform that specializes in providing early and responsive access via education and health services. Kooth currently has two public-private activities in the U.S. The first is a $3 million one-year contract with the government of Pennsylvania to provide free telehealth services to 30 school districts across the state. The second is an agreement with the Californian Department of Health Care Services, which selected Kooth to support the delivery of equitable, appropriate, and timely behavioral health services to youth and young adults (ages 13-25). Kooth will also integrate with other partners to provide a seamless user experience, including providing services and support to children (ages 0-12) and their parents/caregivers.
Another innovative example is the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC), launched at the World Economic Forum’s 2021 meeting on The Davos Agenda. DAC is a multi-stakeholder partnership committed to aligning stakeholders with a new vision for our collective global response against the challenges Alzheimer’s presents to patients, caregivers, and health care infrastructures. Convened by The World Economic Forum and The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease (CEOi), and fueled by a mission of service to the estimated 150 million families and half a billion people inevitably impacted by this disease by 2050, DAC is a collaborative for the benefit of all people, in all places. The collaborative follows the public-private partnership model pioneered by successful international efforts such as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has helped vaccinate more than 981 million children in the world’s poorest countries, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which promotes the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and ensures equitable access to these treatments.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) are two other organizations that have had significant success in funding research and development in their respective fields, based on state government-backed bond funding. CIRM has funded 83 clinical trials, including a recent award of almost $12 million for a clinical trial targeting brain tumors. A 2019 independent economic impact report conducted by the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California says that CIRM has had a major impact on California’s economy, creating tens of thousands of new jobs, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxes, and producing billions of dollars in additional revenue for the state. CPRIT, on the other hand, has funded 1,874 awards for cancer research, product development, and prevention since 2010, with a total amount awarded of over $3 billion.
An independent economic impact analysis by the Perryman Group shows major economic benefits of these programs. Based on the prior success of CIRM and CPRIT in funding research and development, it can be inferred that “healthy brain bonds” have the potential to provide significant value. These bonds could provide funding for research into brain health and disease prevention, as well as the development of new treatments and therapies. By investing in healthy brain bonds, individuals and organizations can support the advancement of brain health research and contribute to the development of new treatments and therapies that could improve the lives of millions of people.
Additionally, in 2020, California voters approved the passage of Proposition 14, which dedicates $1.5 billion for the support of research and development of treatments for diseases and conditions of the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This is now being governed by the CIRM Task Force on Neuroscience and Medicine.
Despite the success of these programs, a strong argument can be made that the existing biotech and biopharmaceutical (biomedical) industries are failing us — both medically and economically. This includes startups, investors, and corporations. Despite benefiting from over $40 billion in equity capital investment, and another $40 billion in NIH-sponsored basic medical discovery research, the biomedical industry generates products that address fewer than 10% of all diseases, with mental health solutions representing the smallest percentage. This system promises shareholder value for a few patients to be prioritized rather than serving the medical needs of all people. For example, the FDA creates virtual monopolies through FDA-granted market exclusivity. In the absence of competition, escalating prices naturally become the best method for maximizing profits, with little to no incentive to reduce costs. However, there is a movement underway to create a public-benefit biotechnology industry, which will fill the 90% gap left by the current structures. This is currently being led by The 90/10 Institute. Companies in this public benefit sector choose a different business model, aligning profits to their purpose of diverse, lower-cost medical products. Companies can implement ways to reduce risk of failure (e.g., repurposing drugs) and leverage alternative capital that is incentivized beyond financial return. These alternatively financed companies will operate leanly, think beyond patent protections, and compete on quality and price.
Recognizing Human Capital in Economic Reporting and Non-financial Ways to Boost Brain Capital
The United Nations adopted a framework in 2021 called the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting — Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA) to integrate natural capital in economic reporting. The brain capital industrial strategy may benefit from the insights of this framework. This UN framework ensures that natural capital such as forests, wetlands, and other ecosystems — previously seen as intangible assets — are recognized in economic reporting. It goes beyond the commonly used statistic of gross domestic product (GDP) that has dominated economic reporting since the end of World War II. Experts convened by the UN emphasize that while a statistic such as GDP does a good job of showing the value of goods and services exchanged in markets, it does not reflect the dependency of the economy on nature, nor its impacts on nature, such as the deterioration of water quality or the loss of a forest. Similar things could be said for mental health, neurology, and brain skills. Indeed, we have seen steps in this direction from the human capital movement (e.g., the Willis Towers Watson’s and World Economic Forum’s work titled “Human Capital as an Asset: An Accounting Framework to Reset the Value of Talent in the New World of Work”). The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board also has a project exploring human capital accounting innovations.
Along these lines, it is important to consider non-financial ways to boost brain capital. A Gallup World Poll in 133 countries found that a non-financial way to maintain higher levels of life satisfaction in aging populations is to enhance eudaimonic well-being (i.e., pursuing happiness by finding meaning and purpose). This can be done by creating opportunities for new learning experiences, social support, respect, efficacy beliefs, a sense of freedom, and pro-sociality — all of which are components of brain capital and mental wealth described later in this paper.
Finding innovative ways to cultivate and fund brain capital and brain capital technologies will be key to developing a brain capital industrial policy that enhances the economic strength and resilience of our society.
Component 4: Ensuring Workforce Preparedness
Building brain capital is a priority for a resilient society and workforce. Beyond the compelling moral arguments for brain capital, companies that focus on their employees’ well-being often outperform their rivals. Those that prioritize the needs of their communities alongside the financial interests of their shareholders will be more resilient and therefore better positioned to build value and recover from setbacks.
The same holds true for nations. Investing in brain capital helps countries protect their economies, their national security, and their most important resource — their people. Such investments are an essential foundation for sustainable development and societal resilience.
The Importance of Mental Wealth
A recent report titled, “The Value of Social Production in the United States: Measuring Mental Wealth,” builds on a concept established by the Mental Wealth Initiative (MWI) to measure and forecast the mental wealth of nations. Mental wealth is a measure that values social production (i.e., the unpaid activities that contribute to the social fabric of nations) as explicitly productive within GDP, making it a more holistic indicator of national prosperity. In 2021, Americans contributed more than $2.293 trillion in social production, equating to 9.8% of GDP that year. The greatest contributors to social production are those that are traditionally undervalued by the formal economy. Women were the largest generators of value in terms of social production, across most of the currently measured activity categories, while men contribute more to the category of volunteering.
Mental wealth signifies the foundation on which economic and social productivity relies — namely, brain capital. By investing more in the mental wealth of citizens and members of our workforce, we are taking the first steps in building a successful brain capital industrial policy.
Developing a New Brain Capital-Focused Workforce
To increase American industrial capacity for brain capital technology and associated services (e.g., by investing), a new workforce is required, akin to those recommended for the bioeconomy by the Federation of American Scientists. This includes reforms to a wide spectrum of roles and functions.
For example, a recent Brookings Institution report noted that the U.S. must improve workforce development and STEM education to preserve America’s innovation edge. It suggested prioritizing effective implementation of the CHIPS and Science Act, boosting domestic manufacturing capabilities, improving workforce development and STEM education, creating opportunities for lifelong learning, developing reasonable immigration policies, and effectively managing geopolitical tensions. All of these steps could help to revitalize America’s workforce.
We also previously wrote about a brain health executive model that outlines a novel workforce approach to ensure we have individuals who can meet the demands of an industry that requires the integration of scientists, clinicians, bioinformaticists, global health experts, social scientists, engineers, technology entrepreneurs, medical educators, caregivers, and consumers. A brain capital technology executive model could build on this model to encompass understandings in education and future-of-work technologies.
One challenge that will need to be overcome to ensure workforce preparedness is information asymmetry in neuroscience fields, as we wrote about previously. Information asymmetry is when one party has information that the other does not — considered a major form of market failure by economists. Governance of brain capital technology companies has a high risk of information asymmetry given the immense technical complexities of the products and services. This asymmetry creates an imbalance of power and can lead to negative results, ranging from poor decision-making on the part of the less-informed party, all the way to providing an opportunity for exploitation and unethical behavior. Therefore, governance optimization through the development of short courses for directors of such startups is essential to ensure the minimization of such asymmetry.
A brain capital industrial policy also requires nesting withing a broader, supportive policy context, and therefore, neuroscience-inspired policymaking skillsets are essential. We are buoyed to see that the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), which trains fellows in novel approaches to brain health optimization in global contexts, is pioneering a summer course on “Brain Infrastructure” to help researchers identify the connections between brain health, brain skills, economics, and policy; distinguish opportunities for international and cross-national partnerships across disciplines that build brain health in-all-policies; and, identify the role for brain capital in advancing new approaches to policy and investing globally. GBHI has also led the development of the Brain Health Diplomacy field and recently published a Brain Health Diplomat Toolkit for Latin America and the Caribbean. These kinds of approaches and economy-wide workforce optimization are essential for educators, lawyers, ethicists, economists, policymakers, and clinicians.
Creating opportunities for people to gain and apply new knowledge is essential and will help workers convert new skills into productive results that can be transferred to communities. Workforce rethinking, upskilling, and reskilling are aligned with the recently announced U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) Talent for Growth Task Force. The TTC is committed to collaborating to build middle-income careers for millions of workers in both the U.S. and EU. The Talent for Growth Task Force builds on existing initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic and brings together government and private sector leaders from business, labor, and training organizations. The goal of the task force is to exchange best practices and serve as a catalyst for innovative skills approaches. These types of initiatives will be key for developing a brain capital-focused workforce.
Brain Science-enabled Innovation Districts
An innovation district is a geographic area where leading-edge anchor institutions and companies cluster and connect with startups, business incubators, and accelerators. The Global Institute for Innovation Districts notes these districts are physically compact, transit-accessible, and technically-wired and offer mixed-use housing, office, and retail spaces. Innovation districts are the manifestation of mega-trends altering the location preferences of people and firms and, in the process, re-conceiving the links between economy-shaping, place-making, and social networking. They constitute the ultimate intermingling of entrepreneurs and educational institutions, startups and schools, mixed-use development, and medical innovations. Innovation districts have the unique potential to spur productive, inclusive, and sustainable economic development — and will therefore be critical for developing a brain capital-focused workforce.
Brain science insights could help optimize the productivity of innovation districts in several ways. For example, research has shown that engaging with nature, meditating, exercising, and connecting with different kinds of people can all help to boost creativity and productivity. By incorporating these insights into the design and operation of an innovation district, it may be possible to create an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration and leads to increased productivity. Additionally, the clustering of anchor institutions, companies, and startups in small geographic areas can facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge, further enhancing productivity.
All of these steps toward developing a new brain capital-focused workforce will be an integral part of our brain capital industrial strategy.
Component 5: Leveraging a Mission-oriented Approach for Brain Capital
Learning from NASA
As we develop our “brain capital mission,” there is much we can learn from NASA, both in terms of its economic and non-economic successes. Over the years, NASA has generated a tremendous return on investment. For every dollar invested by the government, the American economy and other countries' economies have seen $7 to $14 in new revenue, all from spinoffs and licensing arrangements. NASA recently released the results of its second agency-wide economic impact report, demonstrating how its Moon-to-Mars activities, investments in climate change research and technology, and other work generated more than $71.2 billion in total economic output during the 2021 fiscal year.
The economic impact of NASA extends beyond monetary gains. NASA’s research and technological advancements have led to numerous innovations and spinoff technologies that benefit society at large, such as improved medical devices, environmental monitoring systems, and advances in telecommunications. There is also a House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology that oversees agency budgets totaling over $42 billion, and its jurisdiction covers most non-defense and non-human-health federal research and development.
The Apollo Mission and the James Webb Telescope Mission are aligned to the “mission economy” concept that suggests an ambitious, bold, and progressive way of tackling major global challenges of the 21st century. This concept argues that governments should actively shape markets to meet challenges (e.g., energy poverty, environmental justice, climate change), set clear goals, and instigate public-private partnerships that encourage innovation, risk-taking, and collaboration for the good of society as a whole. It looks at the grand challenges facing us in a radically new way and argues that we must rethink the capacities and role of government within the economy and society, and, above all, recover a sense of public purpose.
Recent examples of such “missions” include Operation Warp Speed (which successfully delivered wide-spread vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for COVID-19) and the Cancer Moonshot (in-process and aiming to reduce the cancer death rate by half within 25 years).
The brain capital mission proposes a similar approach, where neuroscience-inspired missions are conceptualized and launched across sectors, supported through cooperation of the public and private sectors.
The Mission Economy Model
A mission-oriented approach highlights the need to make a precise diagnosis of the technological, sectoral, or national innovation system that an innovation policy wishes to transform. Such an approach looks to overcome historic market failures. The alignment of different types of capabilities is key to the success of any mission-oriented policy. These were highlighted previously by Mazzucato and Pena and are noted below:
- Missions should be well-defined. A more granular definition of the technological challenge facilitates the establishment of intermediate goals and deliverables, and processes of monitoring and accountability. When governance is too broad, it can become faulty, and there is a risk of being captured by vested interests.
- A mission does not comprise a single R&D or innovation project, but a portfolio of such projects. Because R&D and innovation are highly uncertain, some projects will fail and others will succeed. All concerned should be able to accept failures and use them as learning experiences. Furthermore, stakeholders should not be punished because of failures derived from good-faith efforts.
- Missions should result in investment across different sectors and involve different types of actors. To have the highest impact, missions should embrace actors across an entire economy, not just in one sector and not just in the private or public realm.
- Missions require joint policymaking, whereby priorities are translated into concrete policy instruments and actions to be carried out by all levels of the public institutions involved. While these missions should involve a range of public institutions, it is crucial that there is a strategic division of labor among them, with well-defined responsibilities for coordination and monitoring.
These considerations point to the need to adopt a pragmatic approach to defining missions. Chosen missions should be feasible, draw on existing public and private resources, be amenable to existing policy instruments, and command broad and continuous political support. Missions should create a long-term public agenda for innovation policies, address a societal demand or need, and draw on the high potential of the country’s science and technology system to develop innovations.
Below we outline six key ingredients that are essential to the formation of the brain capital mission.
1. Mapping the Brain and Understanding Neuroplasticity: Similar to NASA's exploration of space, a brain-focused mission can embark on mapping the intricate networks and functions of the human brain. With only the electric power of one light bulb, the brain executes computational processes more complex than any of the most advanced high-power computers in the world. By delving into the complex terrain of the brain, we can uncover valuable insights about its structure, connectivity, and functioning, leading to breakthroughs in diagnosing and treating brain and mental health disorders. A brain capital-related public-private activity would be a logical evolution from the BRAIN Initiative, which is to be sunset in 2025 and has advanced key neurotechnologies with many applications. We also note quality work from the National Institute for Health Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. A brain capital-inspired approach would extend this work by involving more integrative technology to interpret vast volumes of heterogeneous, multi-scale, multi-dimensional, and often inconsistent innovations derived from brain mapping efforts.
Neuroplasticity — the brain's ability to reorganize and form new connections, particularly after an insult/injury — is a fundamental mechanism underlying learning, memory, and recovery from brain injuries. A dedicated brain health organization can strive to unravel the mysteries of neuroplasticity and other critical and hitherto poorly understood brain functions, enabling the development of innovative interventions to promote brain resilience and rehabilitation. Advanced AI and other advanced biotechnology will bring a fresh look into this centuries-old challenge.
2. Transdisciplinary Collaboration, Technological Innovations, and Creativity: Like NASA's collaborations with scientists, engineers, and experts from various disciplines, a brain-focused mission would foster transdisciplinary collaboration among neuroscientists, psychologists, physicians, engineers, computer scientists, and creative industries. Such collaborations would encourage intellectual cross-pollination and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and methodologies, allowing brain research to transcend the limitations imposed by individual disciplinary boundaries and ultimately generate novel insights and applications not possible inside any particular box.
A brain capital mission could also spearhead research into cutting-edge technologies such as neuroimaging, biomarkers, brain-computer interfaces, and AI. By harnessing these advancements, we can gain a deeper understanding of brain function and develop novel tools for diagnosing, treating, and monitoring brain health and disorders. Lessons could be learned from overcoming the brain health barriers of the Mars mission (i.e., the main barriers preventing humans from going to Mars).
Over the past 10 years, significant declines in American creativity, business dynamism, social well-being in the workplace, and youth mental health have been recorded (Kim 2016; Akcigit 2023; Murthy 2022; Murthy 2023). Meanwhile, despair, or the loss of hope, has grown into an undue burden on the nation's well-being (Graham 2021). These are but a few examples of ongoing cultural shocks and shifts negatively impacting the creative capital of American labor.
Even with technology, culture is a significant influencer and an omnipresent concern. For instance, while AI offers transformative potential, the investor focus on its pervasive technological capabilities risks eclipsing critical parallel investments for developing the human creativity that will guide its cultural use, underscoring the need for equilibrium (WEF 2023). To harness AI's promise, it is vital to strike a balance, ensuring that human brain skills, like principled creativity and collaborative cognition, are central investments alongside digital infrastructure. Both are needed for effective problem-construction and solution-finding by groups working to address our most pressing challenges for innovation and the economic priorities within the emerging future of work.
To bolster the human-centric components essential for “creative dynamism” through a brain capital mission, the two key pillars of brain capital, brain health and brain skills must be intentional and aligned. This could be accomplished in a number of specific ways.
In brain health, a key focus could be entrepreneur mental health, since entrepreneurs create the vast majority of new jobs, introduce useful products and services, and create prosperity. Therefore, it is important that they operate in a state of optimum emotional and relational health. Entrepreneurs were also significantly more likely to report a lifetime history of depression (30%), ADHD (19%), substance abuse (12%), and a bipolar diagnosis (11%) than were comparison participants. Meanwhile, the largest global data set on entrepreneurship from the World Bank shows a statistically highly significant and positive effect of startups on GDP per capita, exports per GDP, patents per population, and job creation.
In the U.S. alone, startups create approximately 43% of new jobs annually, based on data released by the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamic Statistics (BDS). The average age of entrepreneurs in the U.S. is 42. The Brookings Institution recently reported on the surging growth of Black entrepreneurs, who are outpacing white-owned business growth. Given the fast-changing demographics of the U.S., focusing on brain health strategies that support the creativity of growing groups may hold significant opportunities for transformational economic vitality.
In brain skills, transformational creativity is essential. It could be accomplished by aligning changing labor needs and economic production models with the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s top future-of-work brain skills related to creativity and the social processes that unlock it (WEF 2023). Through a multidimensional scientific lens of cognitive, behavioral, and social brain science, it is possible to improve the symbiotic combinatorial power of analytical and creative thinking by maximizing the social processes proven to unlock and channel creative potential into new value.
In this process, our “social brain capital” becomes immensely important. Social brain capital is a measurable composite of cognitive and social resources, abilities, and skills that enable inclusive collaboration of a defined group working together to transform their latent creativity into new, measurable enterprise value. Rounding out the top 5 critical skills in the WEF 2023 Jobs report, top brain skills like resilience, self-awareness, and curiosity have been specifically named “must-haves.” A human-centric brain-skills innovation initiative could catalyze the development of a national creativity infrastructure.
3. Novel Diplomacy and Story Telling to Inspire a Country: Similar to NASA’s engagement in science diplomacy, a brain-focused mission can engage in the new field of brain health diplomacy. The skills required for success are likely to be distributed and found globally, necessitating structures that enable the engagement of the world’s best scientists and organizations. The model of the Health Innovation Exchange (HIEX) can also be explored. The HIEX is an initiative launched by UNAIDS that partners with other organizations to leverage the potential of innovations to improve the health of all. The initiative aims to support global efforts to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by linking innovators to investors and innovations to implementers. The Health Innovation Exchange is about connecting solutions to the challenges that health systems are facing and making innovations and investments work for everyone. A brain capital mission can spearhead global diplomacy in a time of global diplomatic turmoil.
Storytelling was key to the Apollo Mission because it helped to capture the public’s imagination and support for the program. The Apollo program was an enormous undertaking that required the support of the American people, and storytelling helped to convey the excitement and significance of the mission by sharing the experiences of the astronauts, including the challenges they faced and the triumphs they achieved. This helped to build a sense of connection between the public and the mission and inspired future generations to pursue their own dreams. A brain capital mission requires this type of expertise to inspire and engage the public.
4. Prevention, Early Intervention, and Determinants: A central focus of a brain capital mission would be to develop effective preventive strategies and early intervention programs for brain disorders. By promoting brain health awareness, educating the public, and implementing policies to reduce risk factors, we can potentially mitigate the burden of brain disorders and improve overall brain well-being. It's likely that these will require public policy initiatives that could also contribute to the prevention of commonly comorbid physical disorders that share overlapping risk factors and risk pathways.
Different determinants related to physical health, healthy environments, safety and security, life-long learning, and social connection, as well as access to quality services, influence the way our brains develop, adapt, and respond to stress and adversity. The social determinants of health — which are the conditions in places where people are born, live, learn, work, and play — can have a profound effect on a person’s health, including their risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The digital determinants of health are a subset of the social determinants of health follow a socioeconomic gradient: Those at the lowest end of the spectrum have the greatest barriers to digital resources. Addressing these factors and implementing policies that reduce the risks for brain disorders should be a key focus of the brain capital mission.
5. De-stigmatizing Mental Illnesses: Similar to how NASA's achievements have inspired awe and pride — which are much needed in modern America — a brain capital mission could raise public awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health conditions. Despite scientific advancements regarding mental illnesses, social perceptions continue to perpetuate discrimination, fear, and misunderstanding, which can deter individuals from seeking needed help. This, in turn, can impede efforts to develop effective support systems. By highlighting the importance of brain health through a scientific approach, we can foster compassion, understanding, and support structures for individuals facing brain-related challenges.
6. Regulatory Reforms and Neuroethics: There have been repeated calls for an FDA Center for Neuroscience Excellence to accelerate the development, review, and approval of new medical products for neurological and psychiatric diseases and disorders. The center would focus on coordinating and advancing both agency regulatory activities and scientific understanding around neurological conditions and diseases. It would place a stronger emphasis on drug development tools for central nervous system (CNS) treatment and cures, increase utilization of patient-focused drug development for patients with CNS diseases and disorders, improve engagement between the FDA and stakeholders, strengthen internal coordination within the FDA, address concerns over equity challenges in neuroscience research and development, improve the understanding of the neuroscience-related impacts of COVID-19, better integrate digital health technology into the neuroscience product review process, and inform the design and implementation of natural history studies to aid development for neuroscience therapies. The center would follow the model of the successful Oncology Center of Excellence (OCE) created under the 21st Century Cures Act. The OCE has been a robust success in coordinating the activities of the FDA’s product centers related to oncology. Relatedly, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a Transitional Coverage for Emerging Technologies (TCET) pathway with the aim of fostering innovation while ensuring that people with Medicare have faster and more consistent access to emerging technologies that will improve health outcomes.
Advancing neurotechnology ethics is also important because neurotechnology can directly access, manipulate, and emulate the structure of the brain and produce information about our identities, our emotions, and our fears. When combined with artificial intelligence, its resulting potential can easily become a threat to fundamental aspects of human identity, human dignity, freedom of thought, autonomy, (mental) privacy and well-being. According to a recent article published in Nature by prestigious neuroscientists, artificial intelligence experts, and ethicists, there are four areas we must start thinking about: 1) privacy and consent; 2) identity and agency; 3) bias and fairness; and 4) societal impact. UNESCO recognizes the benefits of neurotechnology but also its potential ethical issues and problems — particularly with its use of non-invasive interventions. The organization has therefore started emphasizing the importance of developing sound and ethical regulation in the field of neurotechnology at the international level. Encouraging such dialogue can ensure that further neurotechnology innovation aligns with human rights and social justice at the core.
Competition with China Could Accelerate the Brain Capital Mission
China is a near-peer competitor to the United States and many Western nations. It has advanced AI, brain-computer interface technologies, and a large pool of AI and STEM talent. Hence, a new brain science-inspired industry based in the West is key in the coming decades if the U.S. hopes to successfully compete with China on the global economic stage.
Just as the Apollo Mission was significantly energized by the rivalry with the Soviet Union, the development of a brain capital mission may well be catalyzed by the rising competition from China. The U.S. will also need to harness AI and maintain a focus on ethical considerations and responsible deployment of such technology in shaping the future of brain science-inspired industry.
Examples of Brain Capital-aligned Missions Currently Underway
The Lone Star Depression Challenge is an initiative that aims to improve the quality of life and mental health care for communities across Texas, saving lives and helping millions of Texans receive the care they need to recover from depression. The goal is to increase the rate of recovery from depression in Texas from less than 10% today to more than 50% through early detection and treatment in primary care. The initiative is being led by Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute in collaboration with the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at UT Southwestern, Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and The Path Forward for Mental Health and Substance Use. The Lone Star Depression Challenge scales three existing initiatives statewide: 1) The Cloudbreak Initiative to drive primary care-based clinical solutions across leading health systems, 2) The Path Forward to help Texas businesses purchase better care, and 3) EMPOWER to augment our workforce with community health workers from a wide variety of cultures.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a $20 million challenge called Mission Daybreak that invites the public to find ways to reduce the veteran suicide rate. The challenge aligns with the VA’s “National Strategy for Preventing Veteran Suicide,” which started in 2018 and aims to provide a framework for identifying priorities, organizing efforts, and contributing to a national focus on veteran suicide prevention. It is designed to help the VA develop new suicide prevention strategies for veterans and was recently profiled by Luminary Labs.
The Healthy Longevity Global Grand Challenge, founded by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine, is a worldwide movement to improve physical, mental, and social well-being for people as they age. The initiative aims to 1) comprehensively address the challenges and opportunities presented by global population aging; 2) catalyze breakthrough ideas and research that will extend the human health span; 3) generate transformative and scalable innovations worldwide; 4) and build a broad ecosystem of support by enabling scientists, engineers, innovators, entrepreneurs, health leaders, policymakers, and the public to work together to achieve the promise of healthy longevity.
The Quantum Healthy Longevity Innovation Mission is a new initiative launched by the National Innovation Centre for Ageing and Collider Health. It aims to shift the focus from investing in “sick care” to investing in prevention, with the recognition that the wealth of nations is not possible without the health of populations. The mission seeks to leverage existing assets, reduce duplication and waste in funding allocation, and prioritize effective coordination of key organizations and resources worldwide. The Quantum Healthy Longevity blueprint aims to address urgent needs and fulfill aspirations of the UK Innovation Strategy to tackle big, real-world problems in climate and health by harnessing developments in the understanding of the exposome, the system of all external factors that influence the trajectory of our health and well-being.
E11 Bio is a not-for-profit project supported by Schmidt Futures that operates with a nimble, startup-like culture and pursues blue-skies technology development for neuroscience. Their mission is to make single-cell brain circuit mapping a routine and accessible part of every neuroscientist’s toolbox. They are building ambitious new technology for full-stack brain architecture mapping and envisioning an open and extensible technology platform as accessible to every neuroscientist tomorrow as DNA sequencing is to biologists today.
With funding from the state of California and the University of California, the San Francisco Dyslexia Center formed the Multitudes Project, an ambitious multi-year project whose goal is to develop a free digital assessment tool to aid in the early identification of children who may face challenges learning to read. Developed over the course of several years and in close collaboration with multiple academic and educational institutions, this Multitudes “screener” was created and is being deployed in the state of California.
A new £42.7 million investment into mental health research has been announced by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Research and the Office for Life Sciences. The new Mental Health Mission will develop innovative new treatments and technologies. It will work with patients, NHS staff and clinicians, and innovators to make the UK a leading location in which to test and trial new products.
The philanthropy-funded McCance Center for Brain Health has galvanized its coalition of academic health center partners around its mission to reduce the number of new cases of dementia, stroke, and depression by 10% in 10 years and by 30% by 2050. By committing to science-driven real-world impact, this expanding group of clinicians and scientists is engaging populations and committing to work together across disciplines and institutions to achieve a singular goal at an unprecedented level.
This list of organizations and initiatives is not exhaustive, but it provides a glimpse of the portfolio of sub-missions already being pursued. Facilitating the sharing of information across these projects will help us to achieve the overall brain capital mission.
Proposed Core Mission: Increasing American Brain Capital
As noted previously, brain capital provides a framework to understand the negative impacts of our social, environmental, digital, and economic environments on our individual and collective brains and minds and offers insights as to how to mitigate them. We must leverage data to determine ways to optimize our societies so we can build and not degrade brain capital. An example of an overall core mission could be to increase American brain capital by 25% over 10 years — however, this requires careful measurement.
Global experience in measuring brain capital can be localized to the U.S. to construct a “U.S. Brain Capital Dashoard.” The OECD’s Neuroscience-inspired Policy Initiative (NIPI), the Brain Capital Alliance (BCA), and the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association have developed a country-by-country Global Brain Capital Dashboard to quantify and track brain capital globally. Data sets have been converged under the banner of three domains: drivers, health, and skills. The driver domain will involve data sets focused on digitization, health services, the natural environment, perceptions, social connections, research, and development. The brain health domain will involve data sets focused on the absence of disorders, childhood/adolescence-related issues, aging-related issues, and prenatal-related issues. The brain skills domain will involve data sets focused on cognitive skills, non-cognitive skills, mental flourishing, and mental resilience. Work is then required to create a singular brain capital index. By creating this index, we will be better equipped to measure progress in achieving the core mission and address any shortcomings in particular areas.
The Importance of Brain Capital Missions In-all-policies
The societal and economic impacts of challenges to optimal brain function are significant. Disruptions to brain health, particularly in the context of an aging world population, cost trillions of dollars and pose considerable downstream consequences to productivity, health, and resilience — both at the individual and organizational levels. Brain-based challenges represent internal or external disruptions whether biological, economic, structural, environmental, or social. By supporting in-all-policies, which collaboratively integrate and articulate brain capital-specific considerations into policymaking across sectors to improve outcomes of all communities, we can manage and ultimately prevent these issues and boost economic dynamism through reduced suffering, optimized brain performance and productivity, and new industries. This evokes the aforementioned construct of a brain capital mission that would launch brain capital-building sub-missions across all sectors.
Example of a Sub-mission: Increasing America’s Creativity
WEF’s Future of Work Jobs report underscores that in the emerging innovation economy, where adaptability and forward thinking drive success, creativity is a pivotal form of currency. As industries evolve and the lines between disciplines blur, the ability collectively ideate, pivot, and reimagine solutions becomes invaluable. Just as traditional currencies facilitate trade, in this context creativity facilitates the exchange of ideas, collaboration, and generation of value. It acts as the bedrock upon which new paradigms are built, ensuring that businesses not only adapt to change but thrive amid ongoing cultural transformations, highlighting creativity’s unmatched worth as brain skill in the modern economic milieu.
At the crossroads of evolving science, a multifaceted culture, and breakthrough technologies like AI, there emerges a clarion call for America: to champion a national creativity infrastructure. But this is not about positioning creativity as a standalone cerebral prowess. Instead, it emphasizes creativity's broader spectrum, intricately woven into the very fabric of entrepreneurship, workgroup dynamics, and the overarching industrial and societal context.
To truly reinvigorate America's creative potential, a creativity-centered submission transcends traditional boundaries by fusing art, science, business, and education into a harmonious public-private partnership framework capable of reclaiming a sense of wonder in the American enterprise. This means seamlessly integrating creativity and the social processes that catalyze it into a strategic blueprint that acts as a touchstone for transformational innovation. By championing a holistic approach, we can engineer a national creativity infrastructure that anchors innovation across all sectors.
Key Considerations for a National Creativity Infrastructure
- Address the Need for Systemic Creativity: Emphasize the importance of rejuvenating firm dynamics through a solution that underscores the importance of cultivating creativity at a broad scale, which is integral for a dynamic economic environment. When individual and collective creativity flourishes, it becomes a potent force driving innovative startups, which can challenge incumbents and foster creative destruction.
- Focus on a National Creativity Index and Road Map: As we move beyond individual creativity assessments to a national creativity index, a population-level assessment and strategy could provide invaluable data. A clearer picture of creativity distribution across various sectors could identify stagnating regions or industries, thus signaling areas in need of intervention to invigorate creative dynamism. Such a national index would include composite metrics of cognitive capacity for creativity across demographic and functional diversity. This would align with metrics for social resources, abilities, and skills that research shows enable inclusive collaboration of a defined group working together to transform their latent creativity into new, measurable commercial or societal value across American enterprises — including in the arts, science, and business.
- Leverage AI as a Catalyst, Not a Competitor: This approach recognizes the potential of AI to suppress human creativity and instead posits that AI is a tool for augmenting collaborative cognition and principled creativity at a massive scale. By harnessing AI in synergy with human creativity, the competitive landscape can transform, making the cycle of creative destruction, transformation, and growth more dynamic and beneficial.
- Investing in Inherently Human Capacities: It is imperative to identify and invest in brain capital (brain health + brain skills) as assets for cultivating unique human capacities that machines find challenging to replicate. Strengthening these inherently human facets will ensure that even as AI evolves, there remains a distinct domain for human-led innovation, thus fostering a continuous cycle of creative growth. At the neural level, a creativity sub-mission could explore neural dynamics to understand complex human behavior, elucidate the roles of neurotransmitters (such as dopamine) in creativity, and determine the role of genes in driving creative thinking.
- National Ecosystem for Creativity: The proposed national ecosystem aims to nurture and guide organizational and industry creativity, leading to the emergence of more innovative sectors, revitalizing the economic landscape and encouraging creative growth.
We are inspired by the audacity of the NASA Apollo mission; succeeding in being the first nation in the world to build such an intentional infrastructure highlights the inherent creativity present in every individual, but also optimizes the systemic processes needed to unlock the country’s potential and ensure that America thrives in a world where innovation is the currency of progress.
Component 6: Articulating Supportive Policies
In order to optimize brain capital via a new industrial policy in the U.S., there must be aligned actions for brain capital in other policy areas. Below we provide examples across different policy areas:
- Brain care policy: There is sufficient research to conclude that up to 40% of all dementia, 50% of all strokes, and 35% of cases of depression could be prevented by improvements in brain care. Brain care encompasses the risk factor modifications and adequate management of conditions like high blood pressure, which are at the core of preventing these devastating conditions. By prioritizing and improving brain care across the life span, governments, health systems, medical practices, communities, and individuals could achieve enormous reductions in the occurrence of brain disease, reduce human suffering, improve well-being, and bring the brain health span closer to the life span for societies around the world.
- Food policy: Research has linked ultra-processed food consumption to health problems like obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancers, and we are now just starting to realize how these foods affect the mind. Ultra-processed foods cause inflammation, which can affect health neural pathways in the brain. According to a recent research paper, today’s food environments and food systems around the world are dominated by the corporate-industrial food industry, which is undermining brain capital and therefore sustainable human development and public health on a global scale. There are several recommendations for reforming the industrialized food system to build brain health — these range from transforming the food system through public policy to reforming clinical care to defending against misinformation driven by the food industry, engaging the brain health field in a “Global Plastics Treaty,” and converging planetary and brain health.
- Sustainability policy: Sustainability issues are a major contemporary global concern for our century and for our generation, predicated on a complex set of inseparable and interconnected environmental, societal, and economic problems. Strategies to date have been slow to effect change toward environmentally constructive, science-based sustainable or “green” approaches and, for the most part, have proven inadequate. This, in part, stems from their failure to account for individual and collective human psychology, particularly through understanding the drivers and motivations underpinning human behavior. The Green Brain Capital model corresponds to a sustainability-focused type of brain capital. Green brain capital is underpinned by brain health, environmental determinants of brain health, green skills, creativity infrastructure, ecological intelligence, and digital literacy. Green brain capital intends to be politically pragmatic, economically aware, and lifespan-focused. Growing green brain capital will require transformations across hierarchical levels in social-ecological systems, ranging from individuals to populations to entire societies.
- Social infrastructure policy: Social isolation and loneliness (SIL) are also major contributors to impaired well-being and mental health. The U.S. Surgeon General has emphasized in a recent report the importance of societal approaches to enhancing social connection, with far-ranging consequences for the well-being of the country. Resilience may also benefit from reduced SIL. The report calls out social media among youth as a particular problem and emphasizes six pillars to enhance social connectedness: 1) strengthen social infrastructure in local communities; 2) enact pro-connection public policies; 3) mobilize the health sector; 4) reform digital environments; 5) deepen our knowledge; and 6) cultivate a culture of connection. Others have emphasized the importance of participation in the arts to combat the effects of SIL.
- AI policy: As noted previously, there’s an urgent need to support citizens with a system of digital self-defense. Steps to regulate advanced artificial intelligence and AI-enhanced social media are needed to protect people from AI “hacking” our interpersonal relationships and collective intelligence. Although such technology brings the entire world to our devices and offers ample opportunities for individual and community fulfillment, it can also distort reality and create false illusions. By spreading dis- and misinformation, social media and AI pose a direct challenge to the functioning of our democracies. There’s an urgent need to design neuroscience-based policies to support citizens against AI — for example, a “neuroshield.” The neuroshield would involve a threefold approach: 1) developing a code of conduct with respect to information objectivity, 2) implementing regulatory protections, and 3) creating an educational toolkit for citizens.
- Public procurement policy: A brain capital public procurement strategy is essential for creating the future market for innovative products and services in these areas. In line with international best practices in the area of public procurement as the cornerstone of strategic governance documented by the OECD, such a strategy, apart from dedicated sufficient budgets and creating other financial incentives, should define relevant targets, set up the legal framework with user-friendly definitions and templates, provide specific training to build staff capabilities and skills, create competence centers with multidisciplinary teams, build dedicated knowledge-sharing platforms, define standards and certification systems, and undertake the necessary risk management. An active procurement policy, by means of which the government acts as the creator of demand at an early stage of the market creation process, is one of the most effective ways of supporting the rollout of innovation in the brain capital space.
Component 7: Coordinating Within Government
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus should collaborate on a task force to launch a brain capital mission by bringing together experts from various fields, including neuroscience, medicine, technology, and policy. The goal would be to develop a strategic plan for advancing brain capital and brain research. The task force could identify key areas of research, set goals and milestones, and recommend funding levels and mechanisms to support the mission.
The task force could also work to promote public-private partnerships, engage with international partners, and coordinate efforts across government agencies to maximize the initiative's impact. By working together, the OSTP and the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus could advance our understanding of the brain and improve the lives of millions of people affected by brain disorders.
Additionally, the construction of a U.S. brain capital dashboard should begin immediately to allow for the quantification and tracking of brain capital metrics longitudinally.
Careful policy positioning with the National Institutes of Health, Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of the Surgeon General, the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the National Science Foundation, and other health-, education-, AI-, and industry-related elements of the U.S. federal government will be key.
Immediate next steps for such a plan include high-level dialogues and strategy sessions facilitated by the Stanford Frontier Technology Lab, the 2023 United Nations General Assembly Science Summit, and the Congressional Neuroscience Caucus. A “policy sprint,” akin to the one led by the Federation of American Scientists on a US Bioeconomy, should also be initiated.
It may be that an individual state in the U.S. (or other countries or world regions) leads this approach. For example, one observer recently noted how an new industrial strategy could help to reinvigorate the Mediterranean region. And the European think tank Bruegel recently published a report on a new European industrial revolution involving goals for net zero, growth, and resilience.
Regardless of where the mission is initiated, the involvement of government agencies will be key. Establishing the mission and creating mechanisms to coordinate across all sectors of society will ensure the successful development of a brain capital industry — as well as economic resilience for America and its allies.
The establishment of a brain capital mission would mark a significant milestone in our quest to unravel the complexities of the human brain and catalyze the development of a new and modern industry focused on brain capital technologies. Through extensive research, transdisciplinary collaborations, diplomacy, technological advancements, and public awareness initiatives, such a mission can revolutionize our understanding and management of brain and mental disorders and boost brain health and brain skills.
The most impactful solutions to build brain capital at scale do not lie at the level of the individual but in public policy. By investing in brain capital, we not only enhance the lives of millions suffering from brain-related conditions, we also unlock the full potential of the creative human brain, paving the way for a healthier, more cognitively vibrant future. The creation of an entirely new industry of brain capital technologies would stimulate major economic activity, create jobs, and contribute to technological advances for the U.S. as well as its allies.
Harris A. Eyre, M.D., Ph.D., is a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and a senior fellow at the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. He leads the Brain Capital Alliance and co-leads the OECD Neuroscience-inspired Policy Initiative (NIPI). He is an advisor to the Latin American Brain Health Institute (BrainLat), FondaMental Fondation, the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA), the Mental Wealth Initiative, the Women’s Brain Project, Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Institute and Kooth. He is a member of the Champion’s Cabinet for the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative and an instructor for Brain Infrastructure and Brain Health Entrepreneurship at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI). Eyre maintains adjunct positions with the Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston and Deakin University’s Institute for Innovation in Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation.
Steve Carnevale is a business executive with an extensive track record of activities in mental health and learning disorder innovation. He is a California Mental Health Commissioner and the founder of the UCSF Dyslexia Center.
Erin Smith is a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with GBHI, a fellow in transdisciplinary innovation with the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute and a member of the OECD NIPI Steering Committee.
Dan Mannix is a senior financial and business executive and advisor to the Brain Capital Alliance.
Shuo Chen, J.D., is a general partner at IOVC, where she invests in early-stage startups in Silicon Valley with a focus on future of work and enterprise/SaaS. She is also a faculty member at UC Berkeley, where she teaches entrepreneurship. Chen was appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom as a California Mental Health Commissioner.
Michael Berk, M.D., Ph.D., is currently an L3 research fellow at the National Health and Medical Research Council in Australia and the Alfred Deakin Chair of Psychiatry at Deakin University and Barwon Health, where he heads the Institute for Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Translation (IMPACT). He is also an honorary professorial research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, the Florey Institute for Neuroscience and Mental Health and Orygen Youth Health at Melbourne University, as well as in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University.
Ryan Abbott, M.D., J.D., Ph.D., is a professor of law and health sciences at the University of Surrey School of Law, an adjunct assistant professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles, partner at Brown, Neri, Smith & Khan, and a mediator and arbitrator at JAMS, Inc.
Walter Dawson, D.Phil., is an assistant professor at the Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Medicine, Portland State University and the Institute on Aging. Dawson is also a Senior Atlantic Fellow with the Global Brain Health Institute.
Theo Edmonds, J.D., M.H.A., M.F.A., is a Culture Futurist™ who navigates the intersection of arts, science and business. His contributions span creative industries, public health, neuroscience and economics. Edmonds holds prominent roles in several organizations, including Americans for the Arts, the EMEA, Brain Capital Alliance, and Energize Colorado’s Small Business Resiliency Index. He is a co-founder of University of Colorado Denver’s Imaginator Academy and arts nonprofit IDEAS xLab.
Jo-An Occhipinti, Ph.D., is a professor, the co-director of the Mental Wealth Initiative and head of Systems Modelling Simulation & Data Science at the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney. She is also managing director of Computer Simulation & Advanced Research Technologies (CSART), an international not-for-profit.
Michelle Moses-Eisenstein, M.P.H., is an Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health at the University of California, San Francisco.
William Hynes, D.Phil., is the new approaches to economic challenges coordinator within the Office of the Chief Economist of the OECD. He also holds adjunct positions with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, University College London and the Santa Fe Institute.
Yoed Kenett, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and leads the Cognitive Complexity Lab, Faculty of Data and Decision Sciences at Technion University, Israel. Kennett is the research director of the Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity and an associate editor at Creativity Research Journal.
Hannah Merseal, M.S., is a Ph.D. candidate in Cognitive Psychology. She is also the Delbert F. and Marie S. Welch Research Fellow in the Liberal Arts at Pennsylvania State University. She is a member of the Cognitive Neuroscience of Creativity Lab at Penn State and researches the intersection of cognitive skills and environmental contributions to creative thinking using behavioral, neural and computational methods.
Eric A. Storch, Ph.D., is an endowed professor of psychology and the vice chair within the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at Baylor College of Medicine.
Danish Munir is a founding partner with Grey Matter Capital.
Francois Veron is a managing partner with Newfund Capital.
Barnabas J. Gilbert, M.D., is a psychiatry trainee at Imperial College London.
Marion Leboyer, M.D., Ph.D., is professor of psychiatry at the University Paris Est Créteil, in charge of the psychiatric and addiction department at the Henri Mondor University Hospitals (AP-HP). She is also director of the program project in Precision Psychiatry ProPSY and director of the laboratory of “Translational Neuro-Psychiatry” Inserm U955, Créteil, France. She currently serves as operational director of the FondaMental Foundation.
James ‘Jim’ T. Hackett is a senior energy and business executive and board member. He is co-founder of The Hackett Center for Mental Health Policy and a trustee with Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine.
Upali Nanda, Ph.D., is a partner and global director of research at HKS, Inc., as well as an associate professor of practice at the University of Michigan.
Stephen T. C. Wong, Ph.D., P.E., is the John S. Dunn, Sr. Presidential Distinguished Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering, the director of T.T. & W. F. Chao Center for BRAIN, and the associate director of Houston Methodist Neal Cancer Center, Houston Methodist Hospital. He is also a professor of radiology, neurosciences, pathology and laboratory medicine at Cornell University.
Ernestine Fu, Ph.D., is co-director of Stanford University’s Frontier Technology Lab and managing partner of the venture capital fund Brave Capital.
Laura-Joy Boulos, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist with three folded activities: research (associate professor at Saint-Joseph University), innovation (founder and CEO of Sci-dip, a platform that brings science-based expertise to the health sector) and investing (partner at Globivest, a women-led impact VC fund). L’Oréal-UNESCO IRT 2020.
Michelle Tempest, M.D., is partner at Candesic and author of “Big Brain Revolution: Artificial Intelligence Spy or Saviour?”
Helen Lavretsky, M.D., M.S., is a professor of psychiatry, president of the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry and director of the Integrative Psychiatry and Late-Life Mood, Stress and Wellness Programs at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Agustin Ibanez, Ph.D., is director of the Latin American Institute for Brain Health (BrainLat), Universidad Adolfo Ibanez, Santiago, Chile. He is also a researcher at the Cognitive Neuroscience Center (CNC), Universidad de San Andrés and the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) in Argentina. He is an associate professor at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) and at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Ireland.
Robert Bilder, Ph.D., is the Michael E. Tennenbaum Family Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine and a professor of psychology at the College of Letters and Science at UCLA. He is also chief of the Division of Psychology at the Jane & Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is director of the Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity and director of the National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab at UCLA.
Inez Jayapurwala serves as the global director at VINEx, the executive leader of the Brain Health Nexus and a member of the McGill University Board of Governors. She was founding president and CEO of Brain Canada.
Jeff Krentz is a senior business executive. He is the founder of Skye Isle Ventures, special advisor to The Aspen Institute and executive in residence at Progress Partners.
Faye Sahai is the founding managing general partner at Telosity Ventures.
Quazi Haque, M.D., is chief medical officer and executive operational director at Elysium Healthcare.
Jair Soares, M.D., Ph.D., is the chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UTHealth Houston McGovern Medical School. He is also the executive director of the John S. Dunn Behavioral Sciences Center and vice president for behavioral health at UTHealth Houston.
Kacie Kelly is the chief innovation officer at the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute. She was previously director for health & wellbeing at the George W. Bush Institute’s Military Service Initiative and the national director of public-private partnerships at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office for Suicide Prevention.
Chinmayi Balusu is founder and CEO of Simply Neuroscience, a non-profit organization revolutionizing interdisciplinary neuroscience education for students from across 119 countries. She serves in leadership and advisory roles with 500 Women Scientists, American Brain Coalition, HFC, ALBA Network and the International Neuroethics Society.
Ariane Tom, Ph.D., is founder and director of Kaleida Capital. She is an advisor to the One Mind Brain Health Accelerator and Nucleate.
Shekhar Saxena, M.D., is a professor of the practice of global mental health in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. He previously served in the World Health Organization (WHO) as the director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse.
Verónica Podence Falcão, M.D., is a psychiatry resident at Hospital Beatriz Angelo in Portugal. She is also a fellow at Deakin University’s IMPACT.
Kevin Winters is the general manager of Kooth USA.
Kirti Ranchod, MBBCh(Wits), FCNeurology(SA), is the founder of The Medical Community Pty Ltd, the co-founder of the Africa Brain Health Network, an honourary lecturer in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Witwatersrand and a Global Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health.
Laura Murray, Ph.D., is the founder of CETA Global and a senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., is the director of the Global Research Network on Social Determinants of Mental Health and Exposomics, president-elect of the World Federation for Psychotherapy, a former senior associate dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care and a distinguished professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at the University of California San Diego. He is also the former president of the American Psychiatric Association and American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry.
Robert Lundin, M.D., is a psychiatry registar at Barwon Health and an affiliate lecturer at Deakin University.
Grace Wickerson is the healthy equity policy manager with the Federation of American Scientists.
Rym Ayadi, Ph.D., is the president and founder of the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association. She is a senior advisor to the Centre for European Policy Studies and co-founder of the Brain Capital Alliance.
Luis R. Solís-Tarazona, M.D., is a neurologist by training and a Ph.D. candidate researching diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for multiple sclerosis at the Universidad de Valencia-Hospital La Fe in Valencia, Spain. He is also a full-time employee in Novo Nordisk A/S, Søborg, Denmark, working on Alzheimer´s disease.
Dapo Tomori, M.D., is an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Rachel Meidl, LP.D., CHMM, is the fellow in energy and environment at Rice University's Baker Institute. She is also a strategist and advisor for Circular Economy, MSCI Inc., in New York City.
Patrick Brennan is a government relations professional with a specialization in learning disorders. He is director of the UC/CSU Fellowship via the UCLA School of Education and Information Services and managing director of Rooster Public Strategies.
Laura Booi, Ph.D., is a senior research fellow at the Centre for Dementia Research at Leeds Beckett University. She is also a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.
Francesca Farina, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago. She is also a Senior Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.
Marco Mohwinckel is a senior health care executive. He was chief commercial officer of COMPASS Pathways and and global head of Janssen Healthcare Innovation at Johnson & Johnson.
Julie Scott, Ph.D., is the director of the Brain and Memory Care Lab at Santa Clara University.
Maria Castello, Ph.D., leads the Research Group Brain and Mind Evolution at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biologicas Clemente Estable, Montevideo, Uruguay.
Roni Reiter-Palmon, Ph.D., is the director of innovation at the Center for Collaboration Science, University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Barbara Handelin, Ph.D., is the CEO and founder of The 90/10 Institute.
Gail Christine Gannon, MSPH, is the founding director of the NeuroTech Collider Lab at The University of California at Berkeley.
Chee Ng, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor and Healthscope Chair of Psychiatry. He is the director of the Professorial Psychiatry Unit of The Melbourne Clinic and director of the International Unit at St. Vincent’s Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, University of Melbourne. He is also director of the Asia-Australia Mental Health, site director of WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health, and past secretary general of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists.
Mitchell S. V. Elkind, M.D., M.S., is a professor of neurology and epidemiology at Columbia University, a vascular neurologist and stroke clinical trialist, and chief clinical science officer at the American Heart Association.
Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D., is co-director of the Global Brain Health Institute and co-leader of The BrainHealth Project.
Paweł Świeboda is the CEO of EBRAINS, director-general of the EU Human Brain Project and a member of the steering committee of the OECD Neuroscience-inspired Policy Initiative and the Brain Capital Alliance.
Lynne Corner, Ph.D., is director of VOICE at the UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing.
Michael Platt, Ph.D., is director of the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative and a professor of marketing, neuroscience, and psychology.
Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D., is executive director and a senior fellow at the Wharton Neuroscience Initiative.
Jonathan Rosand, M.D., M.Sc., is a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and an associate member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He holds the J.P. Kistler Endowed Chair in Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and is also co-founder and managing co-director of the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard.
Appendix 1: Brain Capital Challenges and Opportunities
- Mental health disorders alone are estimated to cost the global economy $5 trillion per year, and this is projected to rise to $16 trillion by 2030.
- New CDC data shows US suicide deaths reached record highs in 2022.
- There is a global shortfall in investment in mental health. The WHO Mental Health Atlas showed that in 2020, global governments spent on average just over 2% of their health budgets on mental health.
- The biomedical industry (i.e., manufacturers, producers, and sellers of drugs, diagnostics, and early detection and preventive products) is only addressing 10% of all human maladies — those that generate maximum profits. Mental health solutions rank among the bottom of all health indications being invested in worldwide.
- By 2030, the economic burden of mental disorders will be similar to cardiovascular disease and higher than cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes.
- One third of chronic physical illnesses are associated with mental illness comorbidity.
- The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated mental health problems, leading to an increase in the global prevalence of major depressive disorder by 27.6%, and anxiety disorders by 25.6%.
- People with mental disorders have an increased risk of physical conditions, suicide, unemployment, reduced productivity, and poverty.
- 75% of mental illnesses have their onset during childhood and adolescence, and therefore, impact the sufferers and their families for several more decades than physical illnesses that typically begin in later life.
- In Sept. 2022, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) — led by Chairman Don Beyer (D-VA) — released a new analysis that finds the opioid epidemic will cost the United States a record of nearly $1.5 trillion in 2020. This is up 37% from 2017, when the CDC last measured the cost.
- Four of the six priorities of the U.S. Surgeon General relate to mental health (i.e., social connection, youth mental health, workplace well-being, and health worker burnout).
- In 2023, the White House announced a major Report on Mental Health Research Priorities.
- The European Commission recently announced the European Mental Health Initiative and committed $1.3 billion.
- There is a burgeoning mental health venture capital industry searching for scalable mental health solutions. However, the traditional VC model drives profits over health outcomes, such that investments are not likely to generate a future of effective mental health solutions.
- According to the World Health Organization, every year, dementia costs the global economy more than $1.3 trillion and is predicted to increase to $2.8 trillion by 2030.
- People who contracted COVID-19 and experienced mild to severe symptoms (including those who were and were not hospitalized), have experienced challenges with attention, memory, and executive functioning.
- According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of serious long-term disability. Hospitalizations for acute ischemic stroke are increasing among younger adults 18 to 54 years of age. From 1995 to 2012, hospitalization rates almost doubled for males 18 to 44 years of age. The global age-standardized prevalence of stroke increased 2% from 2010 to 2020.
- Between 2015 and 2035, total direct medical stroke-related costs are projected to more than double from $36.7 billion to $94.3 billion, with much of the projected increase in costs arising from those 80 years of age or older.
- The G7 Hiroshima Leaders’ Communique recommitted to promoting policies and resources to care for people living with dementia and welcomed the development of potentially disease-modifying therapies for the various types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. It committed to sharing efforts for early detection, promoting healthy aging, implementing care pathways, and strengthening primary care.
- In 2022, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders 2022–2031 to reduce the stigma, impact, and burden of neurological disorders, including their associated mortality, morbidity, and disability, and to improve the quality of life of people with neurological disorders.
- The Alzhiemer’s Association’s Factors and Figures 2023 report notes: The incidence rate of Alzheimer’s appears to have declined in the last decade or so. This decline in incidence has been attributed to improvements over the 20th century in Alzheimer’s risk factors, such as increased prevention and treatment of hypertension and greater educational attainment.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the formation of the Office of Long COVID Research and Practice to lead the federal government’s response to long COVID.
- 65% of young people reported having learned less since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.
- K-12 school districts serving predominantly lower-income communities receive 7% less funding compared to school districts serving higher-income communities; as an example, this can result in a funding gap of $5 million for a school district with 5,000 students.
- Compared to 25 years ago, the gap in standardized test scores for students from low-income versus high-income families has now become 40% larger.
- Recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) showed historic declines in American students’ knowledge and skills and widening gaps between the highest- and lowest-scoring students.
- The rapid advent of advanced AI technologies is impacting learning curves and brain functioning in ways that are yet to be explored and defined.
- The Varying Degrees 2022: New America’s Sixth Annual Survey on Higher Education noted the share of Americans who believe colleges and universities have a positive impact on the country has dropped by 14 percentage points since 2020.
- “Averting a Lost COVID Generation” was the first UNICEF report to comprehensively outline the dire and growing consequences for children as the pandemic drags on. It shows that while symptoms among infected children remain mild, infections are rising and the longer-term impact on the education, nutrition, and well-being of an entire generation of children and young people can be life-altering.
- Integrating technology into classrooms has shown significant improvements in students’ learning outcomes and equips them with essential career skills.
- Interdisciplinary teaching has been linked to improvements in cognitive development, specifically affecting students’ abilities to recognize bias, think critically, embrace ambiguity, and reflect on ethical concerns.
- COVID-19-related educational disruptions could result in this generation losing $17 trillion in lifetime wages, impacting the future United States economy.
- The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023 noted the top three core skills for modern workers as 1) analytical thinking, 2) creative thinking, and 3) resilience, flexibility, and agility.
- Employment and workforce readiness is an important medium for social inclusion and well-being, illustrated by its prominence in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the International Labour Organisation’s Decent Work Agenda, and the European Pillar of Social Rights.
- It is predicted that by 2030 the equivalent of more than 2% of all total working hours globally will be lost each year. This is due to it being too hot to work or having to work at a slower pace due to climate change, as predicted by the International Labor Organization’s recent report on Working on a Warmer Plant.
- The U.S. Department of Energy Jobs Report found that the energy workforce has steadily increased, outpacing the growth rate of the overall U.S. workforce. There is a major demand for closing emerging skills gaps, reskilling, upskilling workers, and improving training and education in K-12 as demand for green talent is outstripping supply.
- Workplace well-being is a key priority of the U.S. Surgeon General.
- Workplace mental health is a key focus for many organizations including the Society for Human Resource Managers and the International Stanford Organization.
- The U.S. Federal Government Executive Order on Advancing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility underscores the linkage and importance between DEI and mental health in workforce development.
- A circular future and cleaner energy transition requires access to a diverse workforce with a variety of skills in alternative energy, waste management, and resource recovery that not only seeks to protect the rights of the workforce but offers opportunities to communities. The transition to the circular economy presents an opportunity to redefine work and reimagine how resources are valued, including labor.
Appendix 2: Example Startups, Technologies and Investment Approaches Demonstrating Activities in Brain Capital Technology Subfields
Startups and Technologies
Investment Fund and Approaches
Mental health and substance use
The Ontario Brain Institute’s Neurotech Early Research and Development (NERD) program
Future of work
Creativity and innovation
Early childhood development
Late-life and longevity
This material may be quoted or reproduced without prior permission, provided appropriate credit is given to the author and Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The views expressed herein are those of the individual author(s), and do not necessarily represent the views of Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.