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Asia Challenges US Innovation Leadership, New Report Shows

Asia Challenges US Innovation Leadership, New Report Shows

A recent report posted online on by Teryn Norris titled “Asia Challenges US Innovation Leadership, New Report Shows” the author discusses a report by the US Office of Science and Technology Policy. The report highlights the decline in overall US R&D expenditure and its impact on the dominant position of the US in the long run. It is hard to understand why the US is letting go of its dominant position in research and innovation and why is nothing being done about it?

The US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) advises the US President on issues of science, technology engineering and mathematics. Its data shows that US dominance in innovation has eroded significantly in comparison to China and other Asian countries. China in particular is increasing its investment in these fields and is attracting scientists from all over the world. China, Japan and South Korea have already surpassed the US in clean energy technology and are out investing the US 3:1 in this field.

The OSTP report further states that though the US is still spending the most on R&D, Asian countries, led by China have narrowed the gap considerably and in many fields, the US is no longer number one. A key statistic is the ratio of R&D expenditure to the GDP. While the US has maintained a steady 2.7%, Japan and South Korea have managed 3.5% and China has doubled its expenditure even as the GDP has grown at 12% annually. Asia saw an increase in its share of global R&D while North America saw a decline.

A similar trend was seen in the number of researchers. While the US averaged a 3% increase, Asian countries returned a figure three times that. Asian governments are improving their higher education systems and broadening the participation of their population in education.

While the US higher education system has many strengths, the percentage of American students graduating from these colleges is lower than those being passed out from Asian universities. In some fields, China now produces an equal number of doctoral students as does the US. The US which at one time was a leader in the ratio of doctoral students to the college age population is now near the bottom and of US’s doctoral students, many are from Asia.

In the field of energy, US research efforts are small as compared to its investment in research on health, space and defense. Data shows that of the US investments in R&D in the energy sector, research on renewable energy is a relatively small percentage. Experts in the field recommend rapidly increasing US investment in this area.

While the OSTP report is alarming, it also provides evidence that in the near term, the US is still a leader in innovation. However Asian nations are quickly catching up and the US position will continue to decline unless major steps are initiated soon. This decline will have profound implications on the US’s economic competitiveness, national security and international leadership.

Note: The preceding is a summary of an article found though our research, and is provided here with editorial comment for members only. Please see the full article at the following link for full original content.

The New Asia Innovation Team