A blog by Dave Zvenyach

Some New Data on Innovation and Research

A few takeaways from the NSF's biennial report


A few days ago, I wrote about government and innovation policy. Yesterday, the National Science Foundation published The State of U.S. Science and Engineering 2020. Although I am still digging into the report and the data, there are a few things that were interesting straightaway.

  1. Spending on R&D internationally is growing significantly. Specifically, spending has tripled internationally from $722 billion in 2000 to $2.153 trillion in 2017. This growth is largely due to China's growth and investment in R&D.
  2. Americans’ perceptions of confidence in the scientific community is heavily dependent on educational attainment. Only 29% of Americans with less than a high-school diploma have a “great deal of confidence” in the scientific community. By contrast, 68% of Americans with a graduate degree or higher have a “great deal of confidence”.
  3. One of the most interesting trends is the decline in new firms. In 1982, 50% of all American companies were less than 5 years old. In 2016, only 33% of all American companies are less than 5 years old.
  4. International venture capital is having hockey stick growth. Also interesting that both US and China are increasing investments into “mobile” technologies from ~$9B in 2013 to $59B in 2018. Meanwhile, the US venture capital is heavily investing in AI ($16B), whereas China venture capital is investing in eCommerce ($21B).

It's also worth observing that, in this time of sometimes bitter disagreement about basic facts, we are lucky to have the National Science Foundation's report helping us get a better picture of the state of innovation today. I hope you enjoy reading it.