Despite some recent turbulence, the United States continues to enjoy, at this writing, an unprecedented period of economic growth even taking into account the recent cyclical downturn. This sustained growth, historically low unemployment, and—since 1995—substantial increases in productivity, combined with the great promise of new technologies, provides the conceptual basis for those who believe the U.S. is developing a “New Economy,” that is one with higher long term growth in productivity.
Despite the recent cyclical downturn, our nation’s scientists, engineers, and policymakers have reason to be proud of this economic performance. Yet, many of the new technologies that drive growth today are based on innovations that are a number of years, even decades, old. The Committee is concerned that recent downward trends in funding for basic research in the public and private sectors put at risk the investments that are necessary to nurture and sustain such growth.
It is for this reason that they believe that government policymakers and industrialists should devote more attention to the investments that must be made today to underpin future productivity and prosperity. Longer-term, sustained, and increasing support for a diversified R&D portfolio is key to sustained economic growth and increased national welfare. Effective government-industry partnerships are a key component of this productivity-enhancing policy framework. With this review of the opportunities and challenges posed by partnerships in the biotechnology and computing industries, the Committee hopes to encourage greater public understanding of the importance of the national research effort and of the need for well-conceived partnership programs to help bring the fruits of this research to all Americans.