In Depth

Does science suffer an ‘innovation deficit’?

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Science  24 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6208, pp. 408-409
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6208.408-b

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U.S. science lobbyists coined the phrase "innovation deficit" last year to help make an economic argument for increasing federal funding of basic research, namely, that the current spending levels are too low for the United States to remain a global leader in innovation. Given political and budget realities, erasing this "deficit" anytime soon will take a minor miracle. But the phrase seems to be catching on, despite the fact that a one-time surge of funds could create its own problems. The chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee used it three times in her opening remarks at a hearing last spring on how to spur U.S. innovation by boosting science budgets. Lawmakers have also embraced its logic in pending legislation to pump up the budget of the National Institutes of Health.