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OTHER NATIONS ARE FOLLOWING OUR LEAD—AND CATCHING UP12

It is no surprise that as the value of research becomes more widely understood, other nations are strengthening their own programs and institutions. If imitation is flattery, we can take pride in watching as other nations eagerly adopt major components of the US innovation model.13 Their strategies include the willingness to increase public support for research universities, to enhance protections for intellectual property rights, to promote venture capital activity, to fund incubation centers for new businesses, and to expand opportunities for innovative small companies.14

Many nations have made research a high priority. To position the European Union (EU) as the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world and enhance its attractiveness to researchers worldwide, EU leaders are urging that, by 2010, member nations spend 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development (R&D).15 In 2000, R&D as a percentage of GDP was 2.72 in the United States, 2.98 in Japan, 2.49 in Germany, 2.18 in France, and 1.85 in the United Kingdom.16

Many nations also are investing more aggressively in higher education and increasing their public investments in R&D (Figure 3-1). Those investments are stimulating growth in the number of research universities in those countries; the number of researchers; the number of papers listed in the Science Citation Index; the number of patents awarded; and the number of doctoral degrees granted (Table 3-1, Figures 3-2, 3-3, 3-4).17

China is emulating the US system as well. The Chinese Science Foundation is modeled after our National Science Foundation, and peer review methodology and startup packages for junior faculty are patterned on US practices. In China, national spending in the past few years for all R&D activities rose 500%, from $14 billion in 1991 to $65 billion in 2002. US

12

For another point of view, see Box 3-2.

13

Council on Competitiveness. Innovate America. Washington, DC: Council on Competitiveness, 2004. P. 6.

14

K. H. Hughes. “Facing the Global Competitiveness Challenge.” Issues in Science and Technology 21(4)(Summer 2005):72-78. See also M. Enserink. “France Hatches 67 California Wannabes.” Science 309(2005):547.

15

R. M. May. “Raising Europe’s Game.” Nature 430(2004):831; P. Busquin. “Investing in People.” Science 303(2004):145.

16

National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. NSB 04-01. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. Appendix Table 4-43.

17

D. Hicks. 2004. “Asian Countries Strengthen Their Research.” Issues in Science and Technology 20(4)(Summer 2004):75-78. The author notes that the number of doctoral degrees awarded in China has increased 50-fold since 1986.



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