November 1, 2002
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government
The purpose of the "Between Invention and Innovation" project is to support informed design of public policies regarding technology entrepreneurship and the transition from invention to innovation by providing a better understanding of the sources of investments into early-stage technology development projects. National investment into the conversion of inventions into radically new goods and services, although small in absolute terms when compared to total industrial R&D, significantly affects long-term economic growth by converting the nation's portfolio of science and engineering knowledge into innovations generating new markets and industries. Understanding early-stage technology development is important because a national and global capacity to sustain long-term economic growth is important.
The project has sought to answer two sets of questions:
1) What is the distribution of funding for early-stage technology development across different institutional categories? How do government programs compare with private sources in terms of magnitude?
2) What kinds of difficulties do firms face when attempting to find funding for earlystage, high-risk R&D projects? To what extent are such difficulties due to structural barriers or market failures?
We have pursued two approaches in parallel to arrive at a reasonable estimate of the national investment in early-stage technology development: first, learning from the observations of practitioners in the context of a series of workshops held in the U.S., and second, collecting the data available on early-stage technology development investments from other studies and from public statistical sources.
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