Government-funded Research Increasingly Fuels Innovation

Government-funded Research Increasingly Fuels Innovation
June 25, 2019
Hartford, CT

For the third year in a row, the Trump administration has proposed large cuts in science funding across a variety of agencies. Although Congress restored these cuts in the past two years, increased budgetary pressures may discourage them from doing so this year.

Now, new research from the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Connecticut, Boston University, and Harvard University shows that these cuts in federal funding for science might endanger the innovation that increasingly fuels the modern economy. The study was published recently in Science.

By computing new linkages between government grants and tens of millions of U.S. patents and scientific papers from 1926 to 2017, the multi-disciplinary research team demonstrated that almost a third of patents in the U.S. rely on federal research. Although this may be a conservative estimate, this number has increased steadily over the past 90 years.

“Technological progress is seen as a process through which inventions build on one another. In this study we examine the importance of government-supported research as contributing to subsequent inventions,” says Hillary Greene, Zephaniah Swift Professor of Law at the UConn School of Law.

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