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China set to surpass U.S. in R&D spending in 10 years

Patrick Thibodeau | Dec. 26, 2012
China is on track to overtake the U.S. in spending on research and development in about 10 years, as federal R&D spending either declines or remains flat.

Congress appears unlikely to take steps in the near term to improve R&D spending. If anything, there are worries that the so-called fiscal cliff and other budget actions may reduce spending.

Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said that if sequester happens, it will lead to a cut of 8.8% or $12.5 billion in federally funded research and development funds in 2013 with similar cuts the following years. Similarly, the American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates a budget reduction about as high.

"The fiscal climate right now is just not conducive to growth in federal research investments," said Peter Harsha, director of government affairs of the Computing Research Association. "That's a disturbing trend, especially given the growing research capacity of our global economic competitors. The U.S. leadership role isn't a birthright."


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