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US dominates tech R&D

Propped up nicely by foreign scientists, engineers

The US remains ahead of the pack in science and technology, contributing 40 per cent of the world’s total research and development spend in the sector, according to a new study.

Rand Corporation, a non-profit research group based in Santa Monica, California published the report today in which it claims that the US is not losing its competitive edge.

However, the study’s co-author Titus Galaman also warned that the US tech sector “cannot afford to be complacent. Effort is needed to make sure the nation maintains or even extends its standing,” he said.

Rand also highlighted growing concern, which has already been expressed by Bill Gates and other big name players in Silicon Valley, about the recent reduction in the cap on skilled immigrant visas (H1-B).

It said that more university-educated scientists and engineers graduate in the European Union and China than the US and warned that such a “curtailment” could lead American firms to outsource more R&D to foreign countries.

Indeed, the report echoed Gates’s stance on H1-Bs, which are currently capped by the US government at 65,000.

The Microsoft co-founder has repeatedly argued that relaxing restrictions on visas would address the shortage of scientists and engineers in the US.

In March this year Gates repeated his call for Congress to ease its immigration rules and grant more H-1B visas to skilled foreign workers who have studied at universities in the States, to allow them to stay on after graduation. Otherwise, he argued, the US tech industry could slip on global competitiveness. ®

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