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The Returns to Publicly Funded R&D: A Study of U.S. Federally Funded Research and Development Centers

James A. Cunningham and Albert Link

Annals of Science and Technology Policy, 2022, vol. 6, issue 3, 228-314

Abstract: There is an ongoing policy debate across many countries about the returns to investments in publicly funded R&D. However, much of that debate is based on conjecture rather than empirical facts. Unlike the literature that focuses on the returns to investments in privately funded R&D activity, empirical estimates of the returns to publicly funded R&D are limited. This monograph focuses on one group of public sector organizations that is not only R&D intensive but also that has the potential to enrich economic growth and development in the United States; namely, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs). Herein, the limited literature on the returns to public sector returns to R&D is reviewed, this legislative history of FFRDCs is presented, and the social benefits associated with FFRDC research are evaluated. The monograph concludes with policy recommendations about the direction for future research on the returns to publicly funded R&D.

Date: 2022
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