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No money for the national science foundation means fewer business innovations.

This story appears in the February 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

It gave us radar systems, bar codes that identify virtually every product and numerous other innovations. Yet funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal organization whose grant money has led to so many business innovations, has fallen behind that of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which focuses on biomedical research.

During the Cold War, federal R&D money was channeled into physical sciences like engineering that were tied to national defense. But between 1985 and 2001, federal spending on physical sciences as a percentage of GDP plummeted 29 percent. Instead, R&D money has been targeted toward NIH.

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