American Research Universities: The Driving Force Behind Economic Recovery

From MIT to Berkeley, universities coast to coast are generating future economic success. By combining top students, professors, research programs, and industries universities are cranking out new products and companies – and it isn’t just spurring university economies. Sponsored research puts innovative researchers to work, but new technologies also lead to worldwide job creation.

For example, Google started out as a research initiative by two graduate students at Stanford University and has grown to employ over 19,000 people. Google isn’t the only Fortune 500 Company to develop from university research – here are 100 more success stories compiled by the Science Coalition, a nonprofit working to ensure continued federal investment in basic research.

With examples like Google it seems intuitive to continue supporting sponsored research, but is America loosing its competitive edge?

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, universities in the United States are still leading the pack in filing international patents, but are starting the feel the pressure from other nations. South Korea, Japan, and Britain, who weren’t far behind the US in their number of patents filed in 2010, have had the largest growth in patent filing.

And, other countries have taken note of the American research model. Russia has launched the Russian Skolkovo Project, a university following MIT’s structure to collaborate international companies and research programs. Chile is offering $50,000 to individuals worldwide to bring their start-ups to South America. Led by Seán Sherlock, Minister for Research & Innovation, Ireland is striving to keep R&D investment levels high.

Its no secret that other countries are focusing on R&D to stimulate their economies and its creating competition for American research universities. In this “Innovation Century,” could America be falling behind? What do you think we can do to keep ourselves ahead of the game?

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