US could fall behind China in R&D spending by 2023

A new study predicts that 2023 may be the year that America loses its global R&D leadership role.

A new study predicts that America may lose its title as the global leader in R&D spending by 2023.

If the federal government's R&D spending continues to decline or remain flat, China could overtake the U.S. in spending on research and development in about 10 years.

The U.S. currently holds a big lead in R&D spending over China, with federal and private-sector investments expected to reach a combined $424 billion this year, for a 1.2% increase over 2012 levels.

In contrast, China's overall R&D spending is slated to hit $220 billion this year. That's just over half of the U.S. total, but it represents an 11.6% increase over 2012. And China has been increasing its R&D spending at a similar rate for years, according to the 2013 Global R&D Funding Forecast prepared by Battelle, a research and technology development organization, and R&D Magazine.

A big share of U.S. research is funded by the federal government, which this year is expected to cut its allotment for R&D by 1.4% to $129 billion. This is seen as significant because the government funds basic research -- projects that can take many years to deliver results, but which can pay off with new jobs and even new industries.

India is also investing heavily in R&D, raising its funding 12% to about $45 billion.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Read more about government/industries in Computerworld's Government/Industries Topic Center.

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