The U.S. and global economies are slowing from their peaks in 2018 and they are expected to slow a bit more in 2020. But they’re still expected to grow and a recession is not in any economist’s schedule at this time. This is a unique economic
situation because the U.S. and the world have been on
a non-stop recovery and growth splurge for more than
10 years since the 2009 recession.
More economists are now stating that there is
enough economic capacity to see another five years
of economic growth. There is also a plethora of new
technologies that look to be supported over the near
term as well.
These include: 1) the explosion of AI-based technologies and applications; 2) the automotive transition
to 100% electrical power systems with no let-up in sight;
3) the simultaneous automotive transition to autonomous
driver controls; 4) the explosion of technologies for manned
exploration and excursions to the moon and Mars; and 5) the
continued growth of robotics and automation into all aspects
of society with the inclusion of AI systems.
This is all great news for many R&D
organizations’ R&D budgets which could
see very reasonable increases for at least
another five years.
The most important technologies by
2021 (three years from now), according
to our survey, mirror these new R&D
technologies. Information technologies
(IT) and software are the top two more
important technologies chosen by our
survey respondents. They’re also very
visible components of all five of the new
R&D technologies. Big data and AI—
the next most selected technologies by
2021—are also strong contributors in
these new technologies.
When queried about who were the
biggest R&D threats in the future, our
survey respondents indicated that
domestic and Chinese competitors were
the largest R&D threats to their R&D
enterprises. That is a startling revelation, in that Chinese and domestic U.S.
competitors are for the first time now on
the same footing as U.S. R&D companies. It should be noted that the Chinese
technology companies are far ahead of
non-China Asian competitors and even
European competitors, again for the very
The Future of R&D
were on equal footing as U.S. technology companies, but now
no longer. There are still some European companies, especially in the aerospace, automotive and materials industries,
that are close in technologies and standing to U.S. technology
companies, but not as many overall as was the case.
Biggest R&D Threats in the Future
Non-China Asian competitors
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%
Source: R&D Magazine Survey 2018
Most Important Technologies by 2021
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%