Originally published: October 7, 2012
Last updated: October 7, 2012 - 5:45pm
Government support plays a vital role in incubating new ideas that are harvested by the private sector, sometimes many years later, creating companies and jobs.
A report published this year by the National Research Council, a government advisory group, looked at eight computing technologies, including digital communications, databases, computer architectures and artificial intelligence, tracing government-financed research to commercialization. It calculated the portion of revenue at 30 well-known corporations that could be traced back to the seed research backed by government agencies. The total was nearly $500 billion a year. The long-term importance of government-supported research may loom small in the current debate over how to reduce the federal deficit. But it is an economic issue worth keeping in mind, and one that points to the kinds of tough choices and trade-offs facing policy makers.
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