Upbeat U.S. Research Trends Buck Trend

Upbeat U.S. Research Trends Buck Trend

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The headline on the press release about a new report warns of “R&D trends posing a threat” to the U.S. economy. Scary words, to be sure, especially coming from the presidentially appointed National Science Board, the policy-setting body for the $7 billion a year National Science Foundation. But the data upon which the board bases its analysis paint a much brighter picture of the U.S. scientific enterprise than that headline suggests. In fact, the actual contents of the board’s 20-page white paper reveal some very positive developments affecting U.S. research spending, innovation, and the scientific workforce.

The most startling bit of information is that the nation’s investment in research, as a share of the country’s gross domestic product, reached a record high of 2.9% in 2009. That ratio is a favorite metric for those charting a nation’s commitment to investing in innovation, since the intensity of investment is supposed to be a good indicator of how much the increased spending will actually boost a country’s overall economy.

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