“A big waste of money or the engine of marketplace innovation? That's how some people see basic scientific research. Now a new study shows how basic research and inventions are connected,” according to Joe Palca’s recent All Things Considered podcast on NPR entitled “New Study Highlights Strong Link Between Basic Research And Inventions.”
All Things Considered host, Robert Siegel, explains in the opening comments of the report that “Scientific research can seem abstract or esoteric. But with time, it may turn out to have practical value. A recent study has uncovered a strong link between basic research and inventions that can be brought to the market.”
Palca first asks in the article, “What does the rideshare company Uber have to do with the research of a 19th-century German mathematician named Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann?”
He continues that “Benjamin Jones can tell you. Jones is an economist at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management.”
According to Palca, Jones “and a colleague decided to make a more systematic study of how connected basic research was to future patented inventions. They looked at 4.8 million patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office and 32 million scientific papers. They focused on papers that had been cited by at least one other scientist.”
What do you think their findings told them? Would you say that even some basic research could lead to innovation?