NYT has an article by Vikas Bajaj on Innovations in India — or lack thereof — and the reasons behind it. In fact what is written here about India is true for many countries as very correctly stated there:
India is held back by a financial system that is reluctant to invest in unproven ideas, an education system that emphasizes rote learning over problem solving, and a culture that looks down on failure and unconventional career choices.
One can replace India by more than 100 countries in the above statement and it will be as or more true. More one sees innovative and entrepreneurial places, mote it becomes clear that cultural issues play the most important role in building a thriving innovative industry in a place. What happens in some parts of USA is unique even in USA and is almot unimaginable in most parts of the world.
A good question to ask, then, is how to change culture to make a country more innovative. This is something that has to start by examples and by creating role models. Even a country as prosperous and organized as Singapore has not been able to create this culture. Though they have been talking a lot about doing this and there is strong support — including financial support — from Governemnt. Irnically, much of such support kills what really results in innovative spirit — it makes people risk-averse and makes them more dependent on Government. Exactly what you don’t want to happen.