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November 10, 2021

Melissa Flagg on revamping the US federal government’s R&D strategy

By Maxwell Kushnir

The modern US R&D ecosystem is a far cry from the 1960s era of centralized dominance by the federal government. Now, the federal government accounts for less than 22 percent of domestic R&D spending. New funding actors are prolific and range from business to philanthropy, to the academy. The resulting decentralized R&D ecosystem has served US innovation well, however, the federal government has not yet adapted to this landscape.

Dr. Melissa Flagg, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Geotech Center, and her co-author, Paul Harris, argue this must change. The authors outline how the federal government should adopt a more inclusive, bottom-up approach when selecting research questions and should expand partnerships with local actors. Doing so will re-energize America’s domestic innovation capacity and solidify its position as the global leader in technology.

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Image: iss065e214158 (Aug. 1, 2021) --- New York City and its suburbs light up this portion of the northeastern U.S. coast of the United States in this oblique view view from the International Space Station.