Research That Pays Off: The Economic Benefits of Federally Funded R&D

Two Congressional Briefings brought to you by
Ten National Science and Engineering Societies:
The American Association for the Advancement of Science
ACS Science & the Congress Project
American Geosciences Institute
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Sociological Association
American Statistical Association
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
The Geological Society of America
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Longworth House Office Building Briefing
Senate Visitors Center Briefing
with Honorary Co-Host Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)

In a 1988 national address, President Reagan asked Congress to increase spending on research, calling it “an indispensible investment in America’s future.” President Obama says science is “essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, and our environment.” But the federal share of research spending is now half of what it was in the 1950s. With China’s investment in state-funded R&D on track to eclipse that of the U.S. in coming decades, our global status as number one in science is at risk. What consequences will this have for our long-term economic productivity and the future of American industry? In this briefing, an engaging panel will discuss the critical contributions that federally funded R&D have made to American industry recent decades, how it can continue to return dividends, and what effect this investment could have on long term economic prosperity. It turns out that many of the great economic engines of recent times had their start as federally funded initiatives.

Video Presentations from Longworth House Office Building, March 16, 2012 (via YouTube)

Speaker Bios & Presentations

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Vijay Vaitheeswaran is an award-winning senior correspondent for the Economist. He is currently the magazine’s China Business & Finance Editor, with editorial responsibilities ranging from business and finance to science, technology and innovation. His new book on the future of global innovation, published by Harper Collins, is Need, Speed and Greed: How the New Rules of Innovation Can Transform Businesses, Propel Nations to Greatness, and Tame the World's Most Wicked Problems. ( Kirkus Reviews has called it “the perfect primer for the postindustrial age.” Vijay is a life member at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is an advisor on sustainability and innovation to the World Economic Forum, and a regular speaker at the Clinton Global Initiative. He teaches at NYU’s Stern Business School, and his commentaries have appeared on NPR and the BBC, in the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the New York Times. He has had the honor of addressing groups ranging from the U.S. National Governors’ Association and the U.N. General Assembly to the Technology, Entertainment & Design (TED), Aspen Ideas Festival and AAAS conferences. He also serves as chairman of the Economist's provocative series of conferences on innovation known as the Ideas Economy ( His last book, ZOOM: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future, co-authored with Iain Carson, was named a Book of the Year by The Financial Times. His first book Power to the People was reviewed by John Holdren (currently the Chief Science Advisor to the President) in Scientific American as “by far the most helpful, entertaining, up-to-date and accessible treatment of the energy-economy-environment problematique (sic) available.”

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Fred L. Block, Ph.D. is Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Davis and is widely regarded as one the world’s leading economic and political sociologists. His recent work has focused on documenting the substantial role that the U.S. government plays in technology development across the civilian economy. During the last thirty years while policymakers and pundits were singing the praises of "free markets," the reality was that the public sector significantly expanded its efforts to move research breakthroughs from the laboratory to the market. His book, State of Innovation: The U.S. Government's Role in Technology Development, co-edited with Matthew R. Keller (Paradigm Publishers) contains a series of case studies that document different dimensions of this recently constructed innovation system. His current research centers on the kinds of financial reforms and new institutions required to supports innovation in this new context of public-private collaboration. His earlier books include The Origins of International Economic Disorder (1977), Postindustrial Possibilities (1990), and The Vampire State (1996).

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Catherine “Katie” Hunt, Ph.D. is R&D Director, Innovation Sourcing & Sustainable Technologies at The Dow Chemical Company. She has a strong history of building federally funded, technology partnerships across industry, academia and national labs; partnerships that have successfully delivered innovative solutions. Katie began her career as a senior scientist in analytical research at Rohm and Haas in 1984 after completing an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at Yale University. Over her 25 year career with Rohm and Haas, Katie held positions of increasing responsibility and ultimately served as Corporate Sustainability Director and Leader for Technology Partnerships. Dr. Hunt was the 2007 President of the American Chemical Society (ACS) where she championed education, collaboration and innovation, especially related to the Sustainability of Energy, Food and Water. She is passionate about energy from conserving energy to identifying alternate sources of energy. Katie has received numerous awards including, being named one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” in Pennsylvania by then Governor Rendell (2007). In her spare time, Katie enjoys judging science fairs, mentoring students and bicycling near and far, most recently across Pennsylvania. (Follow her on Twitter @KatieChemist.)

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Simon Tripp is Senior Director of the Battelle Memorial Institute’s Technology Partnership Practice (TPP). Battelle is the world’s largest non-profit science and technology R&D institute. At TPP, Mr. Tripp is responsible for project team leadership in technology-based economic development, regional economic strategies and economic impact assessment. For Battelle, Mr. Tripp has led major technology-based economic development projects in states and regions throughout the U.S and internationally. Prior to joining Battelle, Mr. Tripp was Chief Executive of two research and strategic planning companies – Impact Economics, LP and Tripp, Umbach & Associates, Inc.