Recession No Time to Pull Back on Innovation

US investment in research and development is set to fall 1.6% next year, as corporations and the federal government tighten their belts in response to a faltering economy. The federal government, meanwhile, is projected to spend $99 billion in 2009, a 2.9% decline from the previous year in inflation-adjusted dollars. 

 According to the consulting firm Strategos (, a division of UTEK Corporation (Amex:UTK,, though it seems perfectly rational to batten down the hatches in these current economic times, history has shown recessions to be a time of opportunity for companies who continue to innovate.

Consider the following innovations that Strategos has identified: Ford introduced the assembly line in 1913; Xerox launched its photocopier in 1949; Boeing’s airline customers started flying the 707 in 1957; Fred Smith started Federal Express in 1973; Microsoft introduced MS-DOS in 1981; Intel invested $5 billion in Pentium factories in 1990-91; Apple introduced the iPod and iTunes in 2001.  All of these were recession years.

 Most people equate innovation with research. According to Strategos, that is no longer the case, as  the most successful companies will be those who  can source external technologies to develop new products. The shining light of this “open innovation” mantra is Apple’s iPod. Every key technology that comprises the Ipod came from outside its hallowed walls. Of course, not every company is going to replicate the success of Apple, but it does illustrate the importance of being mobile and outward looking.

 The university and government research labs throughout the U.S. provide an incredible platform of discovery – research labs turn out more than 17,000 new discoveries last year alone, or 350 each and every week. When these discoveries land in the right hands they become imaginative new products that create growth and prosperity.

Dr. Cliff Gross, CEO of UTEK, an innovation consulting firm that helps clients license and develop today’s research into key technologies says in this interview on Fox Business News that the research infrastructure of the U.S. has planted the seeds of future growth:




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