Finding the Endless Frontier

Iain M. Cockburn, Scott Stern and Jack Zausner

in Accelerating Energy Innovation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780226326832
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226326856 | DOI:
Finding the Endless Frontier

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This chapter reviews the roots of innovation in life sciences, an industry that has been the second-largest recipient of federal research funding (after defense), and which is justly celebrated for the extraordinary productivity of the “innovation ecosystem” that links its public and private sectors. The nature of energy and climate change innovation is in many respects different in some fundamental ways from life sciences innovation; however, the evolution and structure of the life sciences innovation system offers an instructive comparison. The genesis and evolution of the life sciences innovation system is the consequence of a set of policy choices and a microeconomic environment that has allowed the United States to leverage a set of embryonic scientific discoveries into a platform for sustained innovation, which has had a significant impact on human health and welfare. Some key features of the life sciences innovation system, such as the set of interdependent firms, markets, institutions, and regulatory and legal frameworks responsible for this strong record of innovation, and some lessons from this sector for innovation policy in energy and climate change, are outlined in the chapter.

Keywords: life sciences; innovation; policy choices; scientific discoveries; climate change

Chapter.  18415 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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