Chapter Overview

This chapter focuses on industry’s vital role in the nation’s science and technology (S&T) enterprise and how the national S&T enterprise develops, uses, and commercializes S&T investments by industry, academia, and government.[1] Various indicators that track U.S. industry’s national activity and standing in the international marketplace for technology products and services and technology development are discussed. Using public and private data sources, U.S. industry’s technology activities are compared with those of other major regional economies, particularly the European Union (EU) and Asia.[2]

Past assessments showed the United States to be a leader in many technology areas. Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 showed that advancements in information technologies (computers and communications products and services) drove the rising trends in new technology development and dominated technical exchanges between the United States and its trading partners. The chapter will examine whether the United States continues to be a leader in technology products and services and assess the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy.

Chapter Organization

This chapter leads off with a new section about how several key economic indicators that provide some perspective on trends in U.S. competitiveness compare with those of Europe, Japan, and the emerging economies of China and India. The chapter then examines the U.S. position in the global marketplace within the service and manufacturing industries, focusing on industries that have a particularly strong linkage to S&T. Because the service sector has become a key driver of global economic activity, considerable discussion is devoted to the U.S. global position in these industries.

Following this discussion, trends in the U.S. global position in production and trade of high-, medium-, and low-technology industries are examined and compared with trends in the EU and Asia. The U.S. trade position in advanced technology goods and intellectual property is also discussed. The chapter next presents indicators that may be useful for assessing the potential for countries to become more important exporters of high-technology products. For the first time, the chapter looks at trends in publishing output, as measured by articles by U.S. industry authors in peer-reviewed journals, to examine changes in one measure of the role of industry in the performance of research. This discussion is followed by analysis of U.S. inventiveness trends using data on U.S., European, and triadic patents. Trends in patenting by U.S. inventors are compared with those by European and Asian inventors, focusing on trends of two technologies: biotechnology and information and communications technology (ICT). Finally, the chapter looks at trends in high-technology-oriented U.S. small businesses that can have a particularly strong relationship to entrepreneurship in S&T. Data are presented on small businesses by technology area, employment, formation, and sources of financing.


[1] Educating a workforce that can fully participate in an S&T-oriented economy is critical to its success. Three chapters of this report track trends in education: Elementary and Secondary Education (chapter 1), Higher Education in Science and Engineering (chapter 2), and Science and Engineering Labor Force (chapter 3).

[2] This chapter presents data from various public and private sources. Consequently, the countries included vary by data source.

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