Industry Week has an article on the state of US innovation which makes for interesting reading. Entitled ‘Innovation Nation’ the article points out that manufacturing industries operating in the United States are more engaged in innovation than non-manufacturing companies, based on preliminary data from the National Science Foundation, which is a U.S. government agency that promotes science and engineering.
The survey data, which is from 2006-2008, show that about 22% of manufacturers introduced product innovations, compared with 8% of companies in non-manufacturing sectors. About 22% of manufacturers introduced process innovations compared with 8% of non-manufacturers. The NSF’s Business R&D and Innovation Survey also shows much higher innovation incidences are observed in the manufacturing subsectors of chemicals, computer/electronic products, and electrical equipment/appliances/components, and in some parts of the nonmanufacturing sectors of information and professional/scientific/technical services. Further, the BRDIS data indicate that companies that perform and/or fund R&D have a far higher incidence of innovation than do companies without any R&D activity.
One of the clearest findings i is the large difference in innovation incidence when companies with R&D activity are compared to those without any R&D activity. Companies with R&D spending exhibit far higher rates of innovation than do non-R&D companies.
Around 47,000 of the estimated 1.5 million for-profit companies (3%) performed and/or funded R&D in 2008. According to the survey data, 66% of all these companies were product innovators in the 2006–08 period, and 51% were process innovators. There is also indication that the companies with the most R&D (those in the $50–$100 million and $100 million or more annual R&D categories) report the highest incidence of innovation: 76% and 81%, respectively, for products in 2006–08, and 69% and 71% for processes.