National Science Foundation Study Finds Varying Degree of Innovation

The National Science Foundation has released a preliminary report entitled “2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS),” measuring the level of innovation across different industries  in the United States from 2006-2008.  The report received data from 1.5 million for-profit public and private companies. The study found that nine percent of the companies were active product innovators, but the data showed significant differences between industries.

Within the manufacturing industry, 22 percent responded that they had introduced innovations composed of “one or more new or significantly improved goods or services,” compared to only eight percent outside the manufacturing industry.  The computer/electronics subsector produced the highest marks, with some companies reporting 45 percent product innovation.  The non-manufacturing sector also showed a very wide range.  For example, software publishers produced a high rate of innovation, 77 percent, and health care services produced only ten percent.

However, the report did show one strong positive correlation between research and development (R&D) and innovation.  Around three percent of the respondents invested in,  and funded R&D and reported high levels of innovation.  Companies investing $50-$100 million per year reported an increase of 76 percent in new or upgraded products while those spending over $100 million per year reported a high of 81 percent.  In a striking comparison, the remaining 97 percent of companies that failed to invest in R&D showed poor innovation performance.  The report was the first of its kind and shows a large disparity within industries, but has the potential to provide a framework for innovation industry by industry.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: National Science Foundation

Photo credit: Dome of the Reichstag building by night courtesy of flick user alles-schlumpf

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