By: Patricia Panchak
The alarms aren’t going off as in years past, but the U.S. research and development community continues to worry. With the fiscal year 2014 omnibus officially signed into law, some federal funding has been restored, but its growth continues to lag in comparison to other countries’ investments.
The sigh of relief over passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 demonstrates just how bad things could have been.
Had the federal budget sequester stayed in effect for the next four years as planned, overall federal R&D funding would have been cut by 8.4%, or $57.5 billion, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s estimates. Worse, those cuts would have continued to be made across the board, regardless of national priorities.
Meanwhile, Asian countries, especially China but not Japan, are racing to catch up.
China’s steady investment, part of its two-decade plan to transition to being “innovation-driven” by 2020, is expected to reach a research intensity of 1.95% of GDP by 2014, according to the annual forecast co-sponsored by Battelle and R&D Magazine.The forecast notes that China seeks to hit a 2.2% rate by 2015. The U.S. still leads this measure, with expected spending of 2.5% of GDP in 2014.
But trends revealed when comparing changes through the years are ominous.