April 2012 Issue • Volume 40 • Issue 4

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Fred Block

Fred Block

Federal Investments in R&D Pays Off

Nine national scientific and engineering societies, including the American Sociological Association, hosted a congressional briefing on March 16 in Washington, DC. Titled Research that Pays Off: The Economic Benefits of Federally Funded R&D, the briefing featured sociologist Fred Block, University of California-Davis. Other panelists were Vijay Vaitheeswaran, The Economist, Dr. Katie Hunt, The Dow Chemical Company, and Simon Tripp, Battelle Memorial Institute. Block’s recent work has focused on documenting the substantial role that the U.S. government plays in technology development across the civilian economy.

At the briefing, the panel discussed the critical contributions that federal research and development (R&D) funding has made to American industry in recent decades, how federally-funded R&D could continue to return dividends, and what effect this investment could have on long-term economic prosperity. As stated in the briefing, many of the great economic engines of recent times had their start as federally funded initiatives, for instance Google, the MRI, the iPod, etc.

A video of the briefing is available at www.speak4sociology.org/?p=502.

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