Can we design policy to get the most out of research?

Posted on October 12, 2010 by


We’re talking a lot at the moment about the broader benefits of investing in research, for society and the economy. This report looks at how public, charitable and private investment interact to create these broader benefits and investigates what we might need to do to make policy that maximises them.


The Office of Health Economics and RAND Europe organised a high level forum in May 2010 discussing how to maximise the benefit of spillovers  from biomedical and health research – i.e. investments in one stream of research “spilling outside” the organisation directly involved and creating broader social and economic benefits.  They have just published a report of the discussion.

The forum set out

  • to find ways to increase the benefit to the UK from biomedical and health research
  • and to advance thinking on how to exploit spillover effects more effectively.

The report looks at how public, private and charitable investment interact – check out figure 2 on page 6 for a nice picture showing how public and charitable R&D  interact with private R&D.

What does it say?

Being a report of a discussion, this doesn’t do any new research into the situation. It does conclude that we have an idea that something is going on, and what looks like a lot of interconnected relationships where investment in one place stimulates investment elsewhere etc. but not enough is understood about all these interactions at the moment to be able to design policy to maximise positive spillovers. It recommends doing more research to find out what’s going on, kicking off with a scoping study to find out how tricky this research will be.

Posted in: Policy