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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Adobe Founder's Concern: Asians Spending Big On Research

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Abobe Systems founder Charles Geschke stopped by Xavier University -- the Jesuit school where he picked up his masters in mathematics 44 years ago -- and warned that China and India are greatly expanding their capabilities to conduct scientific research. Geshke is a Silicon Valley giant and Internet pioneer. His company invented Acrobat Reader and Photoshop, and he openly worried the U.S. could lose its technological edge to aggressive foreign competitors because corporate and government spending on basic research is dragging.

"What keeps me up at night is where our country is in terms of spending and investment in basic research," Geschke said. "China and South Korea have increased government spending on research and development for the last seven years. There recognize that having a large share of researchers and scientists is critical for their future."

Geschke co-founded Adobe Systems in 1982. He questioned why companies are abandoning research and government has cut scientific budgets. "It's very scary. Wouldn't we better off if he had such government funded research projects as alternative energy or stem cell research? Government isn't doing it anymore."

Geschke gave a keynote address at the Xaiver business school in Cincinnati, and recalled how he was studying for a computer science Ph.D. when he heard the Pentagon wanted to switch computers from purely calculating machines to communications tools as well. He said Silicon Valley was swept up in the new research.

"That's what educated the major players in the Silicon Valley, including me," Geschke said.

He told the business school that China and Indian will account for 31% of the world's scientists by the end of this year. For now, the U.S. leads in spending on basic research, but as a total share of the economy science gets less than it does in Japan, Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland. Take out defense research and the U.S. falls to 22nd place. Xavier covered the story, too, and its version of Geschke's talk is HERE.

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