For years now, the debate over improving the American economy has largely circled around the budget deficit. But leaders among the business, higher education, scientific and high-tech manufacturing industries are concerned about a different deficit.

The innovation deficit is the difference between the amount of funding government agencies allocate to research and development  compared to what is actually needed to make an impact in creating new technological and medical breakthroughs. Innovation is what powers the economy for the future, creating jobs and growing American GDP.

This wonderfully creative video produced by the advocacy group Close the Innovation Deficit goes into further detail about how the American economy relies on funding for innovative enterprises to maintain our position as a global economic leader. It also includes a call to Congress to stop the budget cuts in the areas of science and education. Take a look.

After World War II, the federal government poured money into education, science and technology to create the most booming economy in the world. Specifically the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Departments of Energy, Defense, Agriculture and Energy all have a hand in driving the innovation economy forward, providing funding opportunities that have sparked the invention of vaccines, touch screens, GPS, and even the internet.

But recently, the United States has started to lag behind when it comes to growing our innovation economy:

  • The United States is only 12th in the world when it comes to citizens with a college degree. We’re trailing behind Australia, Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom when it comes to our higher education.
  • In the 1960’s the United States spent 17 percent of discretionary spending on research and development. Now only 9 percent goes toward innovation.
  • American research and development expenditures as a percentage of economic output has remained contestant over the past decade. Meanwhile, South Korea’s have increased by 50 percent and China’s by 90 percent.

The innovation deficit is real. Let’s hope that while Congress continues to harp about the dangers of the budget deficit and the necessity of growing our economy, the realize that innovation is a critical part of our future success.