The United States of America is often thought of as being full of big cities and endless suburbs, while the rest of the world has beautiful jungles, peaceful farms, and wide plains. While this may be true, there’s another factor that makes the US stand out from the rest of the world: technology. You can take a look at just how far in front of the competition the US really is when it comes to innovation in technology. In fact, some might argue that it’s not even close.
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The United States leads the world in tech
Every day, billions of people use technology—from smartphones and apps to social media and websites. But where do we get these brilliant innovations? Who designs them? And why does America continue to be at the forefront of tech? The answer lies in a combination of factors: education, resources, money, and risk-taking. Let’s take a look at each one.
To start with, there are more universities in America than anywhere else. A Harvard Business School study found that over 80% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an alumnus or current employee from just 12 American universities – including Caltech, Columbia University and Stanford University. And as a result of having so many schools to choose from, students who graduate with a degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields have numerous opportunities for employment. To be sure, it’s not only about quantity but also quality: some schools have a long history of producing successful entrepreneurs and scientists.
The United States scores higher than Europe
The United States may have a reputation for not being as innovative as other countries, but they are actually far more advanced than we think. According to a report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), when it comes to technological advancement, America is ahead of European nations in a number of important measures. This includes patents filed per capita and R&D spending. In fact, U.S. businesses spend about 2 percent of their revenues on R&D—that’s double what most European countries spend! In addition to that, American companies file about twice as many patents each year compared to Europe’s biggest tech companies like Nokia and Siemens. And while Americans might be best known for creating social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, they also hold over 90 percent of all cloud computing assets worldwide. And despite all these advancements, Americans still manage to spend less money on research and development than other developed countries. PwC attributes America’s success to its strong culture of entrepreneurship which leads to higher levels of innovation throughout society.
The rest of the world is catching up fast
There’s no doubt about it: America leads when it comes to innovation, especially technology. But you don’t have to look far to see evidence of other countries catching up quickly. China, for example, is now home to four of the top 10 most innovative companies in Forbes’ annual list. In fact, China has leapfrogged ahead of Japan and South Korea—countries that were once considered tech powerhouses. The same goes for India, which is also making strides when it comes to technological innovations that are poised to change our lives for years (and decades) to come. That said, there’s still a long way to go before any other country catches up with what Silicon Valley continues to deliver on a daily basis. From artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), robotics and even self-driving cars—not to mention some of the fastest Internet speeds around—America is leading from a technological standpoint.
The drivers behind innovation
There are several underlying reasons why the United States consistently leads other nations in innovation. First, the country is home to more businesses than any other nation; which means plenty of room for start-ups and entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. The U.S. is also home to a disproportionate number of research universities—almost twice as many per million people as any other country. According to data from QS Quacquarelli Symonds—and these higher learning institutions serve as incubators for cutting-edge ideas. In addition, Americans have a strong sense of individualism that makes it easier for them to take risks on new products or services. And lastly, there’s an element of risk aversion in some countries that inhibits innovation; if you can’t count on your government or social system to support you if something goes wrong with your business idea, then it’s harder to take chances with innovative products or services.