National campaign to ‘Close the Innovation Deficit’ sees small progress

Washington, D.C. -- One year after launching a campaign to urge Congress and the president to close the nation’s innovation deficit, a group of prominent university, scientific and business organizations on July 31 renewed their call for increased federal investments in research to build a strong long-term economy, improve medical treatments and strengthen national security.

The Close the Innovation Deficit campaign, designed to raise awareness of cuts and stagnating federal investments in research and higher education, began last year with an open letter to President Obama and Congress signed by more than 200 university presidents, including former Penn State President Rodney Erickson.

The letter described the innovation deficit and called on leaders to close it with investments in research and higher education that would help the United States remain a global leader. The innovation deficit is considered to be the widening gap between actual and needed federal investments in research and higher education at a time when other nations such as China, India, and Singapore are dramatically boosting research funding to develop the next technological and medical breakthroughs.

Over the last 10 years, research and development expenditures as a share of economic output have remained nearly constant in the United States, but have increased by nearly 50 percent in South Korea and nearly 90 percent in China, according to figures from the National Science Foundation.

“The basic and applied research conducted in U.S. academic institutions fuels advanced technologies, economic growth, improved medical treatments and national security,” said Neil Sharkey, interim vice president for Research at Penn State. “Declining federal investments in research at a time when other nations are increasing their research investments is rapidly compromising our longstanding position as the global innovation leader.”

As Congress prepares to break for its August recess, leaving key FY15 funding decisions to be addressed in September, leaders from those organizations supporting the campaign today renewed their nationwide effort to communicate the need to close the innovation deficit.

In addition to lobbying members of Congress to secure more research and development funding for U.S. institutions, the campaign also has a website where more information can be found, at www.innovationdeficit.org.

Last Updated July 31, 2014