– Jonathan R. Hoganson is the deputy executive director of the Technology CEO Council, a public policy advocacy group that includes the CEOs of Intel, HP, Dell, Applied Materials, EMC, Motorola, Micron Technology and IBM. He previously was the legislative director for Rep. Rahm Emanuel and policy director for the House Democratic Caucus. The views expressed are his own. –
A few years from now, when our economy has regained its stride, we may look back to a little-noticed announcement last Monday that spurred the resurgence. Amid swine-flu hysteria and First 100 Days hoopla, President Obama quietly announced a commitment to spending three percent of the U.S. GDP on science research and development.
This is a profoundly important step, but if we are to continue to lead the world, the United States must also develop a comprehensive policy to foster innovation. For too long, the United States has lived in a “next month” mindset when it came to our economy. This short-termitis has led to sub-prime lending, credit card debt and a general lack of long-term planning. And in no place has this been more evident than in the sciences.
For the past decade our spending on research and development has been anemic at best, and beginning in 2005, federal funding of academic research actually began to decline. This was happening at the same time our overseas competitors were increasing their commitment. For example, China has increased its R&D spending by an average of 17 percent each year in an effort to catch and surpass developed nations’ spending.
Currently, the United States ranks seventh among developed countries in R&D spending as a ratio of its GDP. Is that a recipe for continued economic and technology leadership?