Industry

Prototype Database Explores Economic Impact of Investing in Emerging Technologies Industry
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Prototype Database Explores Economic Impact of Investing in Emerging Technologies

December 18, 2023 33

Since its inception, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has served as a partner to advance research in emerging technologies. In the mid-1990s, NSF funded two graduate students from Stanford University who studied computer science. These same students would later submit a patent application that led to the creation of Google, Inc. in Menlo Park in 1998; the NSF’s investment was cited in their successful application.  

This is just one example of how federal research funding can empower bright minds on college campuses to pursue scientific projects and join, or start, firms that will value their training and innovative ideas. Still, there seem to be even more questions about how research investments to grant-funded individuals may impact the firms they join. The Social Science Research Council lays out a few of these questions: How has the job market fluctuated since these insightful researchers from universities began working in the private sector? Have they impacted the quality and earnings of jobs in regional economies?

Current data infrastructure prevents us from answering these important questions in the United States. Because of the increase in federal funds being directed toward research into emerging technologies, it is now increasingly important that a mechanism is created to fill in these gaps in information.

A new collaboration will help to address these important questions. The Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) at NSF, the Ohio Education Research Center (OERC) at The Ohio State University, the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS), and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) have teamed to build a first-of-its-kind data infrastructure mechanism that will track the movement of grant-funded researchers from universities into regional economics. The first regional economy to be examined by “Industries of Ideas: A prototype system for measuring the effects of TIP investments on firms and jobs” will be the state of Ohio.

This prototype infrastructure will employ existing data systems from the OERC and IRIS to connect personnel data from universities about grant-funded researchers to state employment records. This will allow stakeholders to easily monitor the flow of scientifically talented individuals into private sectors and analyze any impact they may have on the firms and technological ecosystems they enter. This way, all stakeholders can better understand the regional economies they can support.

“The Industries of Ideas project,” TIP Assistant Director Erwin Gianchandani was quoted in a release from NSF, “will develop a prototype to better understand the impact of NSF’s efforts through the new TIP directorate, providing rich, descriptive analyses of the interplay between our investments and people, jobs and regional economies.”

While still in its early stages, this data infrastructure will be available to additional states and technology types, thanks to collaboration from university leaders, state governments, partners, and the SSRC’s College and University Fund for the Social Sciences. The implementation and use of this resource will allow for a more comprehensive understanding of the economic impacts of federal investments into research of emerging technologies and will encourage all interested parties to invest in this important scientific research.  

Christopher Everett is the social sciences communications intern at Sage. He is currently studying public policy and media and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With a strong passion for the interplay of law, policy, and communications, Christopher seeks to bridge the gap between these fields through insightful communication and analysis.

View all posts by Christopher Everett

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