Chapter Overview

Scientific discoveries, new technologies, and the aggressive application of cutting edge knowledge are essential for success in a competitive global economy. As such, the strength of a country’s overall R&D enterprise—including both the public and private realms of this system—is an important marker of current and future national economic advantage.

This chapter identifies the essential current trends in the performance and funding of the U.S. R&D system. The discussion covers the sectors mainly responsible for present U.S. R&D performance and funding: the business sector, federal government, nonfederal government, higher education institutions, and other nonprofit organizations. At numerous points, the chapter directly contrasts these U.S. R&D indicators with broadly comparable data from the world’s other major economies.

Chapter Organization

This chapter is organized into four principal sections on the following discussion topics: the recent trends (particularly over the last 5–10 years) in overall U.S. R&D performance, comparison of U.S. R&D performance to that of other leading countries, the U.S. business sector’s large role in the nation’s overall R&D activity, and the federal government’s roles in supporting and conducting U.S. R&D.