Confidence in U.S. as dominant innovator rises

China, the main threat, drops, new global survey finds

On the issue of global competitiveness, it's between the U.S. and China.

India may have most of the IT services and development work, but China has tech manufacturing and its R&D investments are rapidly expanding.

Indeed, China is on track to overtake the U.S. in R&D spending in about 10 years if federal support for research stays flat or declines.

But for now at least, a global survey 811 technology business leaders by KPMG gives the U.S. an edge in what may be a mercurial index that rises and falls with the overall economy. The survey got opinions from executives at large and mid-sized firms, as well as tech startups and investors.

When asked last year which country showed the most promise for disruptive breakthroughs, the survey was tied between the U.S. and China at 29%. That was a consequence of high scores among China respondents against weak confidence levels by U.S. respondents.

But in the latest survey, 37% of the respondents said the U.S. has the most promise for disruptive breakthroughs, versus 24% in China. India was third at 10%.

"People are a bit more optimistic and bullish on the U.S.," said Gary Matuszak, global chair, KPMG's Technology, Media and Telecommunications practice. He credited the gain to improvements in the U.S. economy as China's economy has slowed a little.

KPMG believes that China's innovation push will be driven by domestic consumption, and a desire by Chinese consumers for local brands.

One of the survey's more provocative questions concerns the fate of Silicon Valley. Last year, 44% of the respondents believed that it was likely that the "technology innovation center of the world," Silicon Valley, would shift to another country in the next four years. But this time only 33% of the responders believed that shift would happen. Among U.S. respondents, only 25% believed Silicon Valley was threatened.

"It's very difficult -- very difficult -- for anyone individual country, let alone a city, to develop the eco- system and the infrastructure that exist in the valley," said Matuszak.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at  @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His e-mail address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

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