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National Science Foundation
About Business R&D and Innovation Survey
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National Center for Science and
  Engineering Statistics (NCSES)
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Why a New Survey?

Isn't there already an industry survey of research and development (R&D)?

Yes, the Survey of Industrial Research and Development has been jointly conducted by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Census Bureau since 1957. The new Business R&D and Innovation Survey replaces the Survey of Industrial Research and Development.

So, why a new survey?

Essentially times have changed. The landscape in business has changed dramatically since the 1950s when the Survey of Industrial Research and Development was created. The way R&D is conducted has changed and so have R&D operations. Incremental updates to the survey have not kept pace with these changes. The new Business R&D and Innovation Survey is designed to better capture information on R&D as it is conducted now.

How has R&D changed since the 1950s?

In the 1950s

  • The economy was manufacturing based; now it is largely service based.
  • R&D was conducted in company-owned central labs; now it is much more dispersed.
  • Government was the largest funder of R&D; now it is business.
  • Companies had primarily a domestic focus; now they have a global focus.

What else led to a new survey?

In 2004 the National Academies' Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT), based on its expert review, recommended that it was time to redesign the Survey of Industrial Research and Development. See the CNSTAT site for information on: CNSTAT committee work and its reports on R&D Statistics at NSF.

Did you get advice from industry experts or companies?

Yes! We conducted a number of activities to solicit advice and information on the current state of R&D, where it is headed, the types of information and data needed, and the availability of data.

These activities included the following:

  • 2008 Business Expert Panel - This second generation expert panel consists of 18 high-level executives. The panel will meet in May and November of 2008. It is a follow-on to the highly successful Industry Expert Panel that met three times in 2006. The panel consists of representatives from Agilent Laboratories, Agilex Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent, Amgen, the Clorox Company, Ensemble Discovery Corporation, the Hershey Company, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Stem Cells Inc., Symantec, T/J Technologies, Wachovia, Weyerhaeuser, New York University, and the University of Arkansas.
  • Industry Expert Panel - 16 high-level executives from A123Systems, Air Products & Chemicals, Colgate-Palmolive, Corning, General Motors, Google/Regus, Hershey Foods Corporation, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Lockheed Martin, North Carolina State University, Pfizer, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), T/J Technologies, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Wachovia met three times in 2006 to provide advice.
  • Company Visits - We conducted over 100 company visits to gain a better understanding of how R&D is conducted and the types of information and data that are kept.
  • Data-User Workshops - We held two workshops for current and potential users of R&D data to prioritize the types of information needed.
  • Federal Register Notices
    An April 21, 2008, Volume 73, Number 77 notice was posted to inform the public of the proposed changes and to solicit comments and suggestions.


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