President-elect Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, about innovation, Gates told CNBC on Tuesday.
“A lot of his message has been about where he sees things that aren’t as good as he’d like but in the same way that President Kennedy talked about the space mission and got the country behind that, I think that whether it’s education, or stopping epidemics, other health breakthroughs, finishing polio, and in this energy space there can be a very upbeat message that his administration is going to organize things, get rid of regulatory barriers, and have American leadership, through innovation, be one of the things that he gets behind,” Gates said.
Gates’ new business, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is investing in renewable energy companies that could provide solar and wind energy for the entire continent, build mechanisms that allow natural gas emissions only when renewable energy isn’t working, turn sunlight into fuels directly, and make nuclear fission safer and cheaper.
Trump and Gates hadn’t spoken before; however, Gates thought it was valuable to speak to Trump in order to pull for the budget and staff necessary to focus on innovation in government.
“[Trump] has a lot of flexibility on which issues he really goes after,” Gates said. “What are the positive things for America that he’s thinking and who could help out with that? I’m coming in with a very strong innovation message.”
Trump is meeting with technology leaders at Trump Tower on Wednesday including Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The industry leaders will talk about technology issues such as encryption and cybersecurity.
Gates said that Trump could focus on ways to use technology to streamline government.
“This digital age is pretty special,” Gates said. “Now is a good time to double down on innovation.”