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AAS Submits Testimony for Hearing on Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments

Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 11:29

On Wednesday, 23 April 2014, we joined a chorus of peers in submitting testimony for the upcoming hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee titled: “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments.” Our testimony outlines how we view the astronomical sciences as an integral part of what policymakers and advocates often refer to as our national “innovation ecosystem.” The term is used as shorthand for the interconnected system of federal agencies, universities, and private sector corporations and non-profits who together drive innovation through research and development.

Another piece of local jargon you will find in our testimony, and that of many others, is the “innovation deficit.” This term was coined recently in an effort to convey the notion that as the federal government scales back or stagnates in its investment in reserach & development (R&D), as we have been doing over the past several years of austerity, we are creating a deficit of innovation compared to what we could do and what other nations are doing. China and South Korea have been particularly aggressive in growing their investments in R&D over the same time period (it is the derivative, not the absolute value, that most groups focus on). The most recent release of the NSF Science and Engineering Indicators — a bi-yearly survey of R&D practitioners, including universities and private corporations — showed that Asian countries now outspend North American countries on R&D for the first time in history. Some forecasts predict that China’s government spending on R&D will overtake the US by the early 2020s.

Joshua H. Shiode
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
American Astronomical Society
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