The manufacturing sector has long been a catalyst for U.S. strength in disruptive, breakthrough innovations. The resulting new and improved products and technologies have shaped existing industries and been instrumental in the formation of new markets. But as developing countries with export-oriented growth strategies have begun to embrace innovation as a means to competitiveness in high-technology product markets, U.S. dominance in disruptive product innovation has been challenged. During 2011, U.S. inventors were awarded 48 percent of all U.S. utility patent grants, well below the 60 percent seen in 1980.
Amidst a modest recovery from a deep downturn and an increasingly competitive global business environment, the U.S. must continue to focus on innovation investment and output. We need to develop science and engineering strength within the workforce and put into place the necessary level of public support for inventive activity.