to the United States, the building of a world-leading research infrastructure, and the growth of a robust economy underpinned by successful technology developments. A half century ago this unbeatable asset base led to U.S. dominance in the global S&T community. Many countries have tried to emulate the U.S. system, but only a few have partially succeeded.
However, over the past half-century the foundation of the U.S. S&T asset base has eroded relative to those of other countries in significant ways. Now there are other major global players in an increasingly integrated global S&T arena, and more are expected to arrive. U.S. national corporations have all given way to multinationals with multiple allegiances. Within the JBRICS countries, planners are steadily upgrading higher education and S&T research capabilities, and support for connections to industry and innovation is increasing. Although the United States continues its leadership in areas, it is by ever-decreasing margins. Top talent from around the world, who once would have come to the United States for higher education or for postdoctoral or permanent positions in S&T, are being recruited aggressively to other countries with attractive salaries, high-quality research infrastructures, a frontier vision of exciting prospects, and a welcoming attitude. The United States, on the other hand, discourages or simply prevents the emigration of top talent. With more than 95 percent of the world’s talent residing outside the United States, recruiting internationally is essential, and will remain so even if our domestic compulsory education system becomes enviable. The research infrastructures in Singapore and throughout China, although not yet among the best overall, are developing rapidly. They are being built by both multinational corporations and national investments. Top facilities, competitive with those in the United States, are also being located in the other JBRICS countries studied.
Leadership in the more effective countries is looking beyond the national, U.S.-type S&T innovation environment of the past to create global S&T innovation environments. Such environments extend the national environments by embracing partnerships and collaborations of global enterprises, the benefits derived from open S&T environment created by global communications, and the importance of S&T innovation that is driven top-down by government as well as bottom-up by individuals, academia, and industry.
Finding 10-1. The 20th-century national S&T innovation environment that has been a hallmark of the United States since World War II, and the model for the world, is evolving into a new 21st-century global S&T innovation environment in which R&D talent, financial resources, and manufacturing facilitated by global communications are geographically dispersed and globally sourced.
Top-down innovation environments are led by governments that provide the large investments required for facilities and capabilities that the private sector will not support (e.g., national electricity grid, large research infrastructure, education). Governments can initiate work on the great problems (e.g., clean energy, climate change, pandemics); develop human resources from the global talent pool through education, immigration policies, and recruitment strategies; and ensure the building of necessary top-class facilities.
Bottom-up innovation environments are led by individuals and organizations with independent leaders who engage in the inventive ideas, scientific discovery, engineering creation, and innovative implementations that produce products and services that are commercially viable and globally competitive. Governments can actively encourage bottom-up innovation with efficient intellectual property (IP) policies, transparent and consistent regulations, and tax laws favorable to R&D investment.
Finding 10-2. The S&T innovation environments in the more successful countries possess both top-down innovation environments led by government and bottom-up innovation environments led by individuals and organizations. Of the countries studied, China and Singapore are furthest along in this direction and are progressing toward global innovation environments. The likelihood of their continued, substantial progress is high. Singapore uses its small size and top-down planning to engage the global community, recruit international scholars, provide unique facilities, and offer extended funding commitments to top R&D talent. China’s top-down strategy, which involves the central government plus the provincial and major city governments, uses its vast market opportunity to engage multinational corporations in meeting its goals. Its policies seek to enhance the absorption, assimilation, and re-innovation of imported technologies.