international R&D

Japan to propose $88B university fund for science and technology innovation

Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s advisory panel called for an $88 billion university fund to establish the nation as a center of science and technology and distribute wealth to the wider public. The fund and other growth initiatives would likely become part of a larger “new capitalism” stimulus package worth several tens of trillions of yen that Kishida, who replaced Yoshihide Suga as prime minister of Japan on Oct. 4, is expected to unveil later this month.

Report outlines steps for US to improve its competitiveness in basic energy sciences

The supremacy of the U.S. research enterprise has been eroding, particularly challenged by China and other Asian countries, and a new draft report from the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC) at the Department of Energy (DOE) concludes that U.S. leadership in basic energy sciences will continue to diminish without intervention. Specifically, the report finds that to stay internationally competitive in basic energy sciences the U.S. must: increase total funding for R&D, spanning from basic and fundamental research to experimental development; focus multi-disciplinary research on several key areas of energy sciences; increase the nation’s ability to attract and retain the world’s top scientists and engineers; and, facilitate interactions among basic, applied, and industrial researchers to accelerate the translation of research into socially beneficial technologies.

European Union to invest billions in innovation

As the most ambitious innovation initiative that Europe has ever undertaken, the European Union (EU) recently launched the European Innovation Council (EIC) with a €10 billion (about $11.7 billion USD) fund that will provide both non-dilutive grants to and direct equity investments in innovative startups within the union. After a successful three-year pilot, the EIC is merging with the current Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and has already launched its first official program with a call for proposals worth €1.5 billion (approximately $1.8 billion USD).

SSTI Commentary: Strategic investment needed now

A new report underscores the shifting position of the United States in the global R&D competition and the continuing rise of China. While two charts from the National Science Board’s The State of U.S. Science and Engineering summarize the changing nature of this international struggle, the underlying data on where the U.S. and China are investing their resources should really grab the attention of policymakers and one would hope motivate action by the U.S.

China surpasses US as global leader in experimental development, US maintains dominance in total R&D expenditures

The U.S. continues to be the global leader in total R&D expenditures, spending $483 billion (adjusted to 2010 purchasing parity dollars) in 2017 compared to China’s expenditures of $443 billion. However, according to a recent publication from the National Science Foundation, China surpassed the U.S. in expenditures on experimental development in 2014 and has since continued to increase its lead. In 2017, China spent more than $370 billion on experimental development compared to just over $300 billion in the United States.

UK spending big to attract top science talent

As part of the country’s single biggest investment in science in 40 years, the UK unveiled a new investment in UK talent and skills aimed at growing and attracting the best in science and innovation. Last week, UK business secretary Greg Clark outlined a £1.3 billion ($1.72 billion) investment for British universities and businesses to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and scientific leaders. The money will help ensure the UK invests 2.4 percent of GDP in R&D by 2027 and “becomes the most innovative economy by 2030,” the government press release stated.

UK industrial strategy establishes bold vision, funding commitments

The United Kingdom government recently released a new industrial strategy that outlines a number of striking commitments. These include a plan to increase R&D spending from 1.7 percent to 2.4 percent of GDP, £406 million for STEM training, £1 billion for network infrastructure and a new £2.5 billion investment fund. Like many similar U.S. state industrial reports, the UK paper clarifies its intention to focus its investments in key sectors, namely: artificial intelligence and data, clean energy, mobility/transportation and the “needs of an aging society.” 

U.S. companies investing in foreign R&D

U.S. companies spent 18 percent of their research and development dollars outside of the United States in 2013, according to data recently released by the NSF. The $73 billion in foreign R&D is concentrated in the information industry, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and automobiles and parts. Those four industries accounted for 52 percent of all foreign R&D performance by U.S. companies, while those same industries were less concentrated in the U.S., representing 45 percent of the total domestic R&D performance. The United Kingdom and Germany are the two countries receiving the largest amount of foreign R&D performance by U.S. companies, with Europe as a whole representing nearly half of the total. The Asia and Pacific region accounted for another 31 percent, with India and China being the two largest locations in the region for foreign R&D performance. Data are from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS), cosponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation and by the Census Bureau.

OECD Forecasts Global Change in Economic Development Activities

Megatrends like ageing societies and digitization are expected to shape future research and development agendas across the globe, according to a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  A broader distribution of science, technology and innovation are expected around the world due to the fast pace of economic development in emerging economies, and global competition for talent and resources will most likely intensify according to the OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2016. Such megatrends, and others highlighted in the report, require policy responses that will likely face major constraints, including high public debt, international security threats, a possible erosion of social cohesion and the rise of influential non-state actors, the report maintains.

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