Wednesday, May 13, 2009

U.S Competitiveness and Innovation

In my last post, I talked about how we are moving towards a knowledge-based economy and what that term means.

In today's post, I want to talk about U.S competitiveness, especially with respect to a knowledge-based economy.

Several reports about U.S. competitiveness and innovation in the global economy have been compiled. Although they all use slightly different methodologies, they all reach the same basic conclusion. We are not doing enough to spur research and innovation and we need to wake up before its too late.

The latest report is from ITIF an independent think-tank, here in DC. ITIF specifically focused on the science and technology (S&T) sector, so I'll give some details from their report- The Atlantic Century, which uses 16 different parameters like innovation, productivity, S&T policy, trade policy, etc. to grade and rank 40 different countries on how innovative and competitive they are.

The crucial data from the report are summarized below:

Table 1: How innovative and competitive are we?

Out of 40 countries, we came in 6th. Perhaps, not time to push the panic button yet, but far from the magical #1 slot that most people believe we enjoy.

The report goes further and examines what these 40 countries have been doing to actively encourage innovation and competition in their countries over the past decade.

Table 2: Has our score improved?

This is the most striking result of their analysis- we came in dead last. Out of the 40 countries they studied: the U.S was doing the LEAST to spur innovation.

The results are particularly distressing because countries like Singapore and Luxembourg - already ranked higher than us in innovation and competition - are also doing more than us (a lot more) to spur innovation, meaning we'll have much farther to go to catch up.

The cornerstone for the future of U.S. competitiveness and innovation lies in supporting our research infrastructure, and more specifically researchers. In my next post, I'll discuss the most common path to becoming a scientific researcher in the U.S. and the time and financial investment it requires.

This is Part 2 of 6 in our Human Capital and Knowledge-based Economy series.
Part 1 - A Knowledge-based Economy
Part 2 - U.S Competitiveness and Innovation

Part 3 - The Making of a Scientist
Part 4 - From Training to Practice: Joining the Faculty
Part 5 - A Race to Save the Lab Rats
Part 6 - Advocating for Human Capital

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