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U.S. Competitiveness In Research And Development Continues To Erode

Report: R&D in emerging economies is growing rapidly, says National Science Board’s “Science & Engineering Indicators” study

by Susan R. Morrissey
February 7, 2014

The U.S., Europe, and Japan no longer monopolize the R&D arena because emerging Asian economies are expanding their share of global R&D. This is a major finding of a just-released report from the National Science Board, the policy-making body for NSF and an advisory panel to Congress.

“Emerging economies understand the role science and innovation play in the global marketplace and in economic competitiveness and have increasingly placed a priority on building their capacity in science and technology,” says Dan Arvizu, the chairman of the National Science Board. This focus on R&D is rapidly changing the scientific landscape, adds Arvizu, who is director and chief executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

For R&D performed worldwide in 2011, the U.S. remained the global leader, holding almost a one-third share. China came in second, performing 15% of global R&D.

While the science and technology lead held by the U.S. is decreasing, the report finds that the U.S. still leads in many areas. These include total R&D investment, number of high-quality publications, patents issued, and income generated by intellectual property export. The report also finds that U.S. R&D has rebounded from the Great Recession, thanks in part to funding from the 2009 American Recovery & Reinvention Act.

The “Science & Engineering Indicators” report has been compiled every two years since 1972. It is the most comprehensive federal information and analysis on the nation’s position in the science and technology arena.


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