Born in the USA

Published: 20-Oct-2011

As an early adopter of new technology in the electronics, nuclear and space exploration industries, the US had a pivotal role in setting cleanroom standards that have now been adopted and harmonised across the globe. It is the world\'s largest medical device market, has a massive pharmaceutical and biologicals manufacturing sector, and is at the forefront of nanotechnology research and developing technology for the next generation of wafers and chips

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It was during the race for technological and military supremacy on Earth (and in space) in the 1950s-60s that many cleanroom techniques were born and the US had a pivotal role in setting standards. Some 50 years on Susan Birks reviews the US sector of today.

With more than 312 million people, the United States is the third largest country by population. Its economy is the largest national economy, with an estimated 2010 GDP of US$14.53 trillion1 – nearly as large as that of the whole of the EU. The country has a wealth of land and mineral resources and, as a product of large-scale immigration from many countries, it is one of the most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations.

The country has long been an innovator and early adopter of new technology and has been better at commercialising and marketing innovations than other nations. It has always spent heavily on r&d; Battelle Magazine’s 2011 Global R&D Forecast predicted US r&d would reach $405.3bn in 2011 – one of the largest r&d spends of any nation.2 However, globalisation is narrowing the r&d gap between countries, with China now the second-highest r&d funder and Japan in third place.

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