In this report, ITIF finds that the nature of the U.S. innovation system has changed dramatically over the course of the last 40 years. Using an innovative research method, UC Davis scholars Fred Block and Mathew Keller analyze a sample of innovations recognized by R&D Magazine as being among the top 100 innovations of the year over the last four decades. They find that while in the 1970s almost all winners came from corporations acting on their own, more recently over two-thirds of the winners have come from partnerships involving business and government, including federal labs and federally-funded university research. Moreover, in 2006 77 of the 88 U.S. entities that produced award-winning innovations were beneficiaries of federal funding.
These findings suggest that to succeed in the future, U.S. innovation policy must help support and reinforce our natural national advantage in collaboration. Thus, funding for the U.S. government’s technology initiatives should be expanded and made more secure, and the coordination of these technology initiatives across the federal government, particularly those that support partnerships between firms, universities, and federal laboratories, must be improved.