Simultaneous Pursuit of Discovery and Invention in the US Department of Energy

42 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2017 Last revised: 17 Nov 2017

See all articles by Anna Goldstein

Anna Goldstein

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Venkatesh Narayanamurti

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: November 2017

Abstract

The division of “basic” and “applied” research is embedded in federal R&D policy, exemplified by the separation of science and technology in the organizational structure of the US Department of Energy (DOE). In this work, we consider a branch of DOE that shows potential to operate across this boundary: the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). We construct a novel dataset of nearly 4,000 extramural financial awards given by DOE from 2010 to 2015, primarily to businesses and universities. We collect the early knowledge outputs of these awards from Web of Science and the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Compared to similar awards from other parts of DOE, ARPA-E awards are more likely to jointly produce both a publication and a patent, with at least 5 times higher odds. ARPA-E awards have been productive in creating new technology, without a detrimental effect on the production of new scientific knowledge. This observation suggests the unity of research activities which are often considered separate: that which produces discoveries and that which produces inventions.

Keywords: research funding, basic research, applied research, discovery, invention, knowledge production

Suggested Citation

Goldstein, Anna and Narayanamurti, Venkatesh, Simultaneous Pursuit of Discovery and Invention in the US Department of Energy (November 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3054764 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3054764

Anna Goldstein (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering ( email )

160 Governors Drive
Amherst, MA 01003

Venkatesh Narayanamurti

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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