2010 National Business Innovation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has just released preliminary results of its second annual Business R&D and Innovation Survey, which they call the BRDIS (it has to be one of the least catchy acronyms I’ve ever encountered; the NSF has a history of creating uncatchy acronyms, but this one, unfortunately, makes me think of the word “bris”). Here’s a quick summary from their web page:

Preliminary figures from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS)–fielded for the first time in 2009–indicate that some 22 percent of companies in manufacturing industries reported one or more product innovations (goods and/or services) in the period 2006-08 and about 22 percent introduced process innovations (new methods for manufacturing or production; logistics, delivery, distribution; support activities). Among manufacturing sectors with the highest incidence of innovation (computer/electronic products, chemicals, and electrical equipment/appliances/components), 37 percent to 45 percent of companies reported product innovations and 28 percent to 34 percent reported process innovations. About 8 percent of the estimated 1.5 million for-profit companies represented by the survey are classified as manufacturing industries.

The vast majority (92 percent) of companies represented by the survey are classified as nonmanufacturing. Here, 8 percent of companies reported product innovations and 8 percent reported process innovations. Largely, these companies are in such industries as wholesale/retail trade, hotels, entertainment, and personal services, where the rate of product and process innovation is low. The information sector was an innovation standout among nonmanufacturing industries, with 30 percent of companies reporting product innovations and 20 percent reporting process innovations.

Companies that perform and/or fund R&D reported a far higher incidence of innovation than did companies without any R&D activity: 66 percent of companies with R&D activity reported product innovations and 51 percent reported process innovations. In contrast, 7 percent of companies that were not active in R&D reported product innovations and 8 percent reported process innovations.

When all of these industry groupings are taken together, about 9 percent of companies represented by the survey were product innovators in the period 2006-08 and about 9 percent were process innovators. (Product and process innovation overlap to some extent, and the incidence figures are in general not additive.)

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