BOX 2-1

Key Issues and Questions for STI Indicators

  • Growth, Productivity and Jobs What is the contribution of science, technology, and innovation (STI) activity to productivity, employment and growth? What is the relative importance of technological innovation versus non-technological innovation for economic growth? Is the United States falling behind with respect to innovation and what are the effects on socioeconomic outcomes?
  • STI Activities What are the drivers of innovation? How influential is R&D for innovation and growth (by sector)? What would constitute a “balance” between the biological and physical sciences? On what basis could that be determined? Does biological science depend on physical science for advancement? How important are the following for advancing innovation: small businesses, large businesses, strategic alliances, technology transfer between universities and firms, academic researchers, government labs and procurement activities, and nonprofit organizations? What are the emerging innovative sectors and what is unique about them?
  • STI Talent How much knowledge capital does the United States have? How many people, possessing what kind of skills, are needed to achieve a robust STI system? What additional sources of “talent” can best be tapped—especially among immigrants, women, and minorities? How many science and engineering doctorate holders took nontraditional pathways into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce? Did this vary by race/ethnicity, gender or the existence of a disability? How important are community colleges in developing human resources for STEM talent? Is the U.S. falling behind in STEM workers? What fields other than science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are important for advances in STI?
  • Private Investment, Government Investment and Procurement What impact does federal research spending have on innovation and economic health, and over what time frame? How large should the federal research budget be? How should policy makers decide where to put additional research dollars or reallocate existing funding streams—information and communications technology, biotechnology, physical science, nanotechnology, environmental technology, social science, etc.? Does government investment crowd out or energize private investment STI activities? What is the role of entrepreneurship in driving innovation?
  • Institutions, Networks and Regulations What impacts are federal research programs having on entrepreneurial activities in science and engineering sectors? Where are the key gaps in the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge that undercut the performance of the STI system? Where is the supposed “valley of death” in innovation? In which industries is the valley of death most prevalent? What part of the process is underfunded for specific sectors? What is the nature and impact of intellectual property protection on scientific and innovation outputs?
  • Global STI Activities and Outcomes What can we learn from other countries and what are other countries learning from us? In what technological areas are other countries accelerating? What impact does the international flow of STI have on U.S. economic performance? What is the relative cost of innovation inputs in the U.S. versus other countries? Where are multinational corporations sourcing R&D? What are the institutional differences that affect innovation activities among nations and how are they changing?
  • Subnational STI Activities and Outcomes How does innovation activity in a given firm at a given place contribute to that firm’s productivity, employment and growth, and perhaps also to these characteristics in the surrounding area? How are those innovation supply chains working within a state? Are firms principally outsourcing new knowledge from customers or from universities?
  • Systemic Changes on the Horizon How will demographic shifts affect the STEM workforce, nationally and internationally? Will it shift the locus of the most highly productive regions? Will global financial crises slow innovation activities or merely shift the locus of activities? When will emerging economies be integrated into the global ecosystem of innovation and what impact will that have on the system? How are public views of science and technology changing over time?


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