Investment in R&D is a foundational building block for innovation. A sustained historical commitment to making strategic, long-term investments in science and technology over multiple decades put a man on the moon in eight years, created the internet and modern computing industry, and established the United States as the global leader in the development of cutting-edge technologies.
While private-sector R&D investment has accelerated over the past 30 years, the federal government’s willingness to make long-term, strategic investments in R&D has diminished. Investments in basic research and foundational science — the early stages of the R&D pipeline in which federal involvement is particularly important — are key to supporting advances in critical underlying technologies, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced robotics, aerospace and advanced medicine. Also key is creating and maintaining the right conditions for American businesses to make what are often risky and long-term investments in developing, testing, commercializing and deploying new technologies.
It is time to apply to the new innovation economy the same ambition and national commitment that enabled the United States’ historic leadership role. A shared commitment to making smart, sustained and strategic investments in R&D will mean that more of the world’s intellectual property and more high-value jobs are created in the United States and that more American businesses are the standard bearers for innovative technologies and processes.