Yesterday, we looked at overall trends in U.S. innovation measured by patents. Today, we break out U.S. patents between U.S.-resident and non-resident or foreign inventors patenting in the U.S.
Numerous studies have shown that, over the past two or three decades, the role of foreign scientists, technologists, and entrepreneurs in U.S. innovation has increased. Recent research by AnnaLee Saxenian and Vivek Wadhwa and others finds that anywhere between a third and half of all Silicon Valley start-ups during the 1990s had a foreign entrepreneur or scientist on their core founding team. As I have previously argued, foreign-born scientists currently make up 17 percent of all bachelor's degree holders, 29 percent of master's degree holders, 38 percent of PhDs, and nearly 25 percent of American scientists and engineers. My earlier research shows that Japanese companies - and some European companies as well - chose to locate research labs in the U.S. to access a diverse mix of scientific talent they cannot attract in their home countries.
The graph below shows the overall trend in patenting for U.S.-resident and non-resident foreign inventors between 1980 and 2005. Non-resident (foreign) inventors have just about pulled even with U.S. inventors in patenting, and their rate of inventive activity more or less tracks that of U.S.-based inventors. But here again, even with two dips since 2000, the rate and level of innovation over the past decade remains up.