Paula Stephan (Georgia State University) highlighted “potential research opportunities that will emerge with the growth of the UMETRICS database, including to improve understanding of patterns of innovation; to model how knowledge stocks embedded in human capital contribute to innovation and firm performance; to examine how the type of support relates to the employment outcomes of Ph.D.s.; and to explore the role of social networks, networks between firms and universities, and networks across firms in the placement of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.”

Workshop proceedings explore the returns to federal investments in the innovation system

Through grants, contracts, and loans, the federal government invests over $140 billion annually in research and development. Most economists agree that public support for research and development is essential given that the private sector—unable to internalize the social benefits—will underinvest in the creation of knowledge that may lead to innovation. Critics have questioned the adequacy of the return on this public investment, arguing that government investment is ineffective, inefficient, and may simply crowd out private investment. Overlaying these issues are questions about the broader impacts of these federal investments on inequality—that is, the distribution of gains from the fruits of innovation.

On December 15, 2016, the Innovation Policy Forum of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy held a workshop designed to gather leading researchers to explore the returns to federal investments in the innovation system, which include economic growth, job creation, as well as improved health and quality of life. The workshop was structured into four panels investigating social returns to: (1) federal investments in basic research; (2) federal support to private-sector innovation (which include research and expenditure (R&E) tax credits, small business support, prizes, and the patent system, among other policies); (3) public investments in human capital and supporting infrastructure such as digital infrastructure; and (4) the relationship between innovation, inequality, and social mobility. This publication briefly summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

Read Returns to Federal Investments in the Innovation System: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief (2017)»