Science and R&D

In an economy powered by innovation and technology, more proactive R&D policies are key to success.

Why Aren’t the Jobs There for U.S. Scientists?

July 9, 2012
| Blogs & Op-eds

The United States needs to enact a far more sophisticated set of policies regarding regulations, public investment, taxes, trade, education, and others if we want to create an environment in which U.S. life sciences firms—and those in other science- and engineering-based sectors—can remain globally competitive and thus produce sufficient employment opportunities to fully leverage the high-skilled scientific and engineering talent being produced in the United States.

Federal Funding for R&D: Further Evidence That it is Needed More Than Ever Before

June 18, 2012
| Blogs & Op-eds

In an era of ever tightening budget constraints, some, especially some conservatives now argue that federal funding for research is not critical for innovation. They claim that the private sector will make up for any losses in innovation resulting from a reduction in federal funding of R&D. In the latest edition of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (devoted to the examination of science policy and innovation), two scholarly articles clearly rebut this view.

Genius Loves Company

June 11, 2012
| Blogs & Op-eds

When Congress takes up corporate tax reform, lawmakers should consider a few ideas from ITIF. First, make clear that process R&D qualifies for the R&D tax credit. Second, Congress should use the tax code to promote more collaboration between companies as well as non-corporate entities.

Taking Stock Podcast - Bloomberg Radio

April 23, 2012
Rob Atkinson appears on "Taking Stock" to discuss innovation and competitiveness.

Rob Atkinson and Vinny Catalano appear on "Taking Stock" to discuss innovation and competitiveness. After ITIF's Innovation Consensus Conference, they reflect on the evident need for policies that advance R&D efforts, reform STEM education, and provide considerable investments for start-ups.

Why the Current STEM Education Reform Strategy Won’t Work

April 11, 2012
| Reports

In an article for the National Academy's Issues in Science and Technology, Rob Atkinson argued that much of what passes for accepted wisdom for STEM reform (science, technology, engineering and math education) is misguided and that we need a new approach. Advocates of what can be called the "Some STEM for All" framework want an approach focused largely on expanding and improving K-12 STEM education for all American students. Many of the dominant policy solutions being proposed, such as increased teacher pay and campaigns to get students interested in science, reflect this framing. In contrast, Atkinson argues for a new approach grounded in a "Some STEM for All" approach focused in part on providing high quality STEM education for students especially interested in and focused on STEM.

Congress should consider an Investment Tax Credit to provide a credit (at a lower rate) on all capital expenditures made above 75 percent of the base.

Congress should consider establishing an investment tax credit modeled on the Alternative Simplified R&D Credit (ASC). The ASC provides a credit of 14 percent on R&D expenditures above 50 percent of the average firm expenditures of the last three years. An Investment Tax Credit could provide a credit (at a lower rate) on all capital expenditures made above 75 percent of the base (the base would be the average expenditures on qualifying capital equipment over the last three years).

If current R&D investment continues at the current level, the R&D investment deficit will grow to $2.6 trillion by 2021.

If federal R&D investment had been sustained at the 1960-1980 level, in terms of an average share of GDP, these investments would be approaching $230 billion annually today, rather than the current levels of roughly $150 billion. Our robust investment in R&D in the 1960s, 70s and 80s fueled our post-war prosperity and helped set the stage for the IT revolution, advances in biotech and pharmaceuticals and the creation of millions of jobs and companies in the 1990s. Read more »

A Word from the Wise is Sufficient

October 13, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

Recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) 2011 were unanimous in saying a steady and consistent funding stream helps maintain the country’s brain power and world class R&D infrastructure. It also begins a process that can lead to successful commercialization of ideas and discoveries.

Are We a Nation of Homer Hickmans or Homer Simpsons?

October 4, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

The 54th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union is a good time to take stock of how the country is reacting to the innovation challenges we face today. Beginning almost immediate in the fall of 1957 and continuing through the 1960s, the U.S. made significant investments in science, education, R&D and aerospace and it paid off in the form of new jobs, even new industries. By contrast, when President Obama tried to rally us to make similar investments by declaring a “Sputnik moment” in 2011, we have seen little meaningful change in policy. If anything, the public mood seems to cut public investments. In this blogpost, Steve Norton wonders if part of the problem is a fatigue and defeatism that seems to have infected the national spirit. He says we can and should snap out of it and points to some proposals ITIF has made to step up our competiveness and get us back on the path to innovation-based leadership.

National Science Foundation (NSF) offers the same number of annual graduate research fellowships as it did in 1960s.

The National Defense Education Act, created in 1958 in direct response to the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, established graduate fellowships for students on the doctoral track in the sciences. While the particular program is no longer in effect, it and similar programs are widely credited with putting more talent in the pipeline and augmenting U.S. science policy. Today, we are shortchanging the interests of our students and the needs of the nation if we limit support for graduate education in critical fields.