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May 27 -- Census indicates that it responsible for preparing ABS data on non-R&D topics such as financing, owner demographics, and business characteristics and the NSF National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) is responsible for preparing ABS data on R&D, innovation, and technology. "[T]hose data will be released in the coming months by the NCSES.  Upon their release, the Census Bureau will make the data available on the ABS website."

On May 19, the Census Bureau released the results of the 2018 Annual Business Survey (ABS). The ABS provides information on economic and demographic characteristics of businesses and business owners by sex, ethnicity, race, and veteran status; measures research and development (for microbusinesses); and has annually rotated topical modules. Topics in the 2018 ABS include R&D, Innovation, Technology, and Financing. Each ABS collects data on business operations for prior calendar year; the 2018 ABS, then, covers 2017 operations.  

Census ABS website: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/abs.html
2018 ABS data: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/abs/data.html
2018 ABS questionnaire: https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/abs/information/2018/abs_2018.pdf
NCSES ABS website: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyabs/
 
The ABS is conducted jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics within the National Science Foundation. The ABS replaces the five-year Survey of Business Owners (SBO) for employer businesses, the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE), the Business R&D and Innovation for Microbusinesses survey (BRDI-M), and the innovation section of the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDI-S).
 
The ABS covers all nonfarm employer businesses filing the 941, 944, or 1120 tax forms. It is conducted on a company or firm basis, rather than an establishment basis. As the replacement for the SBO in Economic Census years, the 2018 ABS sampled approximately 850,000 employer businesses. The estimated sample size is 300,000 for years 2019-2022. The sample size is necessary to provide summary-level estimates for women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses and to produce reliable estimates at the 2-digit NAICS, U.S., state and metropolitan statistical area (MSA) levels. For the 2018 ABS, estimates are also available for counties and economic places. Nonemployer businesses are excluded from the ABS.

2018 ABS topic areas:

COMPANY INFORMATION -- information on the operations and structure of the business.
OWNER CHARACTERISTICS -- information on the owners of the business.
INNOVATION -- information on the business’s innovations and innovation activities. An innovation is the introduction of a new or significantly improved product, process, organizational method, or marketing method by this business. An innovation must have characteristics or intended uses that are new or which provide a significant improvement over what was previously used or sold by the business. However, an innovation can fail or take time to prove itself. An innovation need only be new or significantly improved for the business. It could have been originally developed or used by other businesses or organizations.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT -- information on research and development activity from businesses. Research and development (R&D) comprise creative and systematic work undertaken in order to increase the stock of knowledge and to devise new applications of available knowledge.
TECHNOLOGY AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY -- information on intellectual property and technology use for the business.
FINANCING AND OTHER BUSINESS CHARACTERISTICS -- information on funding, profitability, customers, workers, and employee benefits.

The 2019 ABS includes a robotics topical module. New questions on the 2020 ABS collect data on globalization, the relationship between domestic and foreign activities, and telework. The latter is added to obtain a baseline for COVID impacts on business telework practices.

Points of contact:  
Census Bureau -- Patrice N. Hall, Chief, Business Owners Branch, Census Bureau  301-763-7198  patrice.n.hall@census.gov
NCSES -- Audrey Kindlon, Project Officer, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (703) 292-2332  akindlon@nsf.gov

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