Why US innovation is slowing down

Despite steadily increasing investment in scientific research — comprising dollars spent, number of PhDs trained and articles published — productivity, typically seen as a direct measure of innovation, is decelerating in the U.S., according to the Harvard Business Review.

Though this slowing growth has been attributed to a lack of groundbreaking discoveries and to barriers keeping discoveries from being translated into practical applications, a recent HBR article suggests that, in fact, the innovation ecosystem's deceleration is due to the growing gap between corporate and academic science. Venture capital-backed entrepreneurship can successfully bridge this gap, but has only done so in a handful of sectors; therefore, other methods of translating science into invention are needed.

One such solution would be for the public sector to spearhead early financing for translational research in industries overlooked by VC funds, in hopes that the private sector will step in during the later, commercialization-focused stages. Another would see scientific entrepreneurship nurtured from the earliest stages, training a new cohort of experts who can lead the charge in translational research.

"Although it is tempting, there is little point in hankering for the past, golden or otherwise. The new innovation ecosystem has a great deal of promise," per HBR. "What we need is a better way to harness today's scientific advances and technical breakthroughs to accelerate productivity growth."

More articles on innovation:
Cone Health launches 'innovation sandbox'
Harvard and MIT partner with Boston-area hospitals to create bioscience innovation center
UN report: Innovation more collaborative than ever, concentrated in hubs like San Francisco, NYC

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