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The Heat Is On How long can the U.S. maintain its innovative edge?

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As industries and jobs move overseas, the U.S. has focused oncutting-edge innovations to stay one step ahead. But if the U.S. isan economic Energizer Bunny, the rest of the world is determined tostep up the pace.

In July, France announced plans to invest $1.82 billion tocreate 67 "competitiveness centers" to fuel research andinnovation, with more to come. China is building a world-classuniversity system to produce scientists, and now ranks third behindthe U.S. and Japan in nanotechnology patents.

As other countries invest more in R&D, education andentrepreneurship, business and academic leaders are asking anuncomfortable question: Is the U.S. losing its innovative edge?Consider these statistics: American companies now account for just52 percent of U.S. patents; we rank 13th in household broadbandpenetration among 15 highly developed countries; and only 29percent of papers published in top physics journals in 2004 were byAmericans.

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