One out of every five

But here is another statistic that is even more striking: one out of every four. That’s how many of America’s high-tech jobs were based in California just 20 years ago. That’s a 35% decline in the last two decades.

What is happening to California’s high-tech economy?

During the last 20 years we have seen our state’s economic environment change. The same state that once inspired two graduate students to invent Google in their dorm room now is watching as many of its largest technology companies outsource jobs to other states and even other countries. And why not? China, for example, has tripled its R&D investment since 1998.

The time has come to acknowledge that the battle for leadership of the technology economy is underway. And California is no longer winning it.

The time has come for a new strategy to help our state once again become innovators in the high-tech sector.

And the time has come for CALinnovates.

A few weeks ago, a group of industry experts, thought leaders, tech innovators, policy makers and consumers joined together to form CALinnovates, a non-partisan organization to promote innovation, create new jobs, spur investment and support tech-friendly policies.

Our issue is simple: we believe California’s economy and California’s future will be determined by our innovation.

Our challenge is great: we believe we must reverse years of decline in California’s high-tech sector.

And our strategy is straightforward: we want to make California the leader in innovation again.

The state that gave us Google, Apple and Hewlett Packard can surely give us new ideas, new initiatives and new innovation. But we need to get started; and we need to get started now.

A recent survey that we commissioned shows that while 96% of Californians believe technology and innovation are an important part of our state’s economy, 80% of those same Californians believe our state is on the wrong track. And they are right.

So how can we turn this around? How can we reverse the brain drain? How can we again make California the innovation leader of our country and our world?

At CALinnovates, we want to begin the conversation about how to create innovation in California. We want to be a resource for policy makers in California and beyond as they grapple with policy that affects the innovation economy. From our dynamic new media platforms that feature California’s innovators and tech leaders, to meetings and briefings with California’s chief policy makers – CALinnovates not only provides a medium for companies to network, but helps to connect the ideas of today for an economy of tomorrow.

And as part of that effort, we are launching a new app so that Californians can follow the 2010 elections in general and technology issues specifically.

Want to know how your legislator is voting on innovation issues? Get the CALinnovates app.

Want to see what innovation issues are being discussed in the campaign? Get the CALinnovates app.

Want to be involved in politics and make sure policy makers are paying attention to innovation issues? Get the CALinnovates app.

Let’s encourage our political leaders to have a serious debate about innovation. Let’s find out what they believe and why. And let’s keep the focus on this crucial issue.

And remember: we’re Californians. We invented the technology revolution. Now we’re going to re-invent it.