R&D Goes Offshore In Search Of Talent

The skill of R&D employees and the ability to collaborate with universities are the driving forces behind U.S. and European companies' efforts to locate R&D operations offshore, according to a new report. The authors of the study, Marie Thursby, professor of strategic management at Georgia Tech College of Management, and Jerry Thursby, professor and chair of economics at Emory University, presented their findings February 16 at a meeting of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academies in Washington D.C.

China and India will continue to garner the lion's share of R&D expansion over the next few years as companies seek access to top scientists and engineers. Additionally, companies are entering into collaborative research relationships with leading universities, according to the study which surveyed more than 200 multinational companies across fifteen industries.

What's staying on home territory however, is the cutting-edge research, due to the presence of strong intellectual property (IP) protection. According to the study, only 22% of the R&D effort in emerging countries is for new science. "While costs are higher in the U.S. and other developed countries, these economies still have a comparative advantage in R&D because of the high caliber of their scientists, particularly given the IP environment," says Marie Thursby. "Not everything's moving to China and India."

The authors contend that the U.S. must maintain the quality of its R&D personnel by providing more basic-research support and removing obstacles to immigration for highly skilled workers. "We are educating the world's best and brightest, but make it difficult for them to stay in America," Thursby says.

"The study underscores the critical role universities play in a country's national innovation system, not just in the training of new scientists and access to the best talent, but in the ease of developing and licensing technology," said Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation, which sponsored the study.

To read more on this study visit: http://www.gatech.edu/news-room/release.php?id=866

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