R&D Goes Global

Manufacturing research and development is taking on a global nature just like the rest of manufacturing. With only 5 percent of the world’s population in the United States, any manufacturer who declines to participate in the growing prosperity abroad is missing out on major market developments, to say the least.

Products used in this country are not always the ones that sell in China, Brazil or South Africa so researching and developing and thereby localizing the product is one challenge to operating abroad. There is a lot of talent in these countries, too, as education levels rise and mushrooming middle class populations grow. Nevertheless, it’s still an appropriate topic for a hearing by the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology. Here’s what chairman Gordon said:

This Committee has been working hard to address one of the country’s most pressing issues, U.S. competitiveness,” said Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “As is widely recognized, our competitiveness and high standard of living is derived largely from our technological superiority. But almost on a daily basis we read announcements that more high-tech jobs are being offshored to developing countries.

One of the witnesses at the committee’s hearing this week was Dr. Tom Duesterberg, president of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, one of the nation’s foremost manufacturing research organizations. He presented cogent testimony about the manufacturing economy and trends in manufacturing R&D:

the United States remains a commanding R&D presence in the world, although China especially is becoming more attractive when future investments are considered. When UNCTAD asked non-U.S. multinationals from around the world what their preferred location was for new R&D projects abroad, the United States was listed second most often. China was mentioned most often, and India was listed third most often, followed by Japan and the United Kingdom.10 The survey demonstrates that the United States is a preferred location for R&D among multinationals headquartered in other developed and emerging countries.

For Dr. Duesterberg’s complete statement click here.

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