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What U.S. Decline In R&D?

Posted by: Jeff Bussgang on June 30

I was catching up on my reading this weekend (OK, I’m a bit of a geek/wonk, but it was a pretty rainy one in New England) and came across an interesting RAND research report on “US Competitiveness in Science and Technology.” In short, the report purports that concerns about America’s decline in R&D and Science & Technology are grossly overblown. While the author, Titus Galama, warns that the US cannot be complacent, he concludes, “Much of the concern about the United States losing its edge as the world’s leader in science and technology appears to be unfounded.”

Despite the conventional wisdom, US investment in R&D has grown at similar rates as the rest of the world. Other interesting data points include: the US accounts for 40% of total world spending on R&D, produces 63% of the most frequently cited publications, is home to 30 of the 40 world’s leading universities and serves as the home for 70% of the world’s living Nobel laureates.

What the report does point out is that the US will fall sharply behind if we don’t address the weak performance of our K-12 public education system (something I’ve recently gotten involved with in my home state of MA) and if we don’t loosen immigration rules, particularly for skilled science and technology workers coming in with H1-B visas (an area where we seem to be going backwards, not forwards).

Anyway, it represents another interesting set of data for discussion and consideration in the debate about entrepreneurship and America’s global standing in driving innovation. Click here to read a press release of the report and click here to download the full RAND report.

Reader Comments


June 30, 2008 03:02 PM

Good to hear you're working on K-12. Everything I hear is definitely troubling; if you get kids at an early age, it will resonate for the rest of their lives.

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