Traditionally, green engineering has been sustainable because of our entrepreneurial spirit and R&D funding. While the state of the science and engineering enterprise in America is strong, its lead is slipping, according to data released by the National Science Board (NSB). Prepared biennially, the Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) provide information on the scope, quality, and vitality of America’s science and engineering enterprise. SEI 2010 sheds light on America’s position in the global economy.
The gap is narrowing for research and development expenditures in the US, EU, and Asia in absolute dollars. Asia is catching up and this increase in R&D has spiked in the last half decade. Credit: NSB, SEI 2010
“The data begins to tell a worrisome story,” said Kei Koizumi, assistant director for federal research and development in the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). He noted that US dominance has eroded significantly.
Over the past decade, R&D intensity-how much of a country’s economic activity or gross domestic product is expended on R&D-has grown considerably in Asia, while remaining steady in the US annual growth of R&D expenditures in the US averaged 5-6%, while in Asia, it has skyrocketed. In some Asian countries, R&D growth rate is between two to four times that of the US.
In terms of R&D expenditures as a share of economic output, while Japan has surpassed the US for quite some time, South Korea is now in the lead-ahead of the US and Japan. Why does this matter? Investment in R&D is a major driver of innovation, which builds on new knowledge and technologies, contributes to national competitiveness, and furthers social welfare. For the US, monies committed to R&D pioneers and entrepreneurs can bolster our country’s commitment to advancing science and technology such as space exploration, pharmaceutical, medical, and environmental studies.
While the US continues to lead the world in research publications, China has become the second most prolific contributor. China’s rapidly developing science base now produces 8% of the world’s research publications, up from its just 2% of the world’s share in 1995 when it ranked 14th.
Patents are another measure of valuable contributions to knowledge and inventions to societies. Inventors from around the globe seek patent protection in the US. US patents awarded to foreign inventors offer a broad indication of the distribution of inventive activity around the world. While inventors in the US, the European Union (EU), and Japan produce almost all of these patents, and US patenting by Chinese and Indian inventors remains modest, the number of patents earned by Asian inventors is on the rise, driven by activity in Taiwan and South Korea.
National Science Foundation
Filed Under: Green engineering