The Fall of the Innovation Empire and its Possible Rise Through Open Science

13 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2021 Last revised: 31 Mar 2021

See all articles by E. Richard Gold

E. Richard Gold

McGill University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 17, 2021


There is growing concern that the innovation system's ability to create wealth and attain social benefit is declining in effectiveness. This article explores the reasons for this decline and suggests a structure, the open science partnership, as one mechanism through which to slow down or reverse this decline. The article examines the empirical literature of the last century to document the decline. This literature suggests that the cost of research and innovation is increasing exponentially, that researcher productivity is declining, and, third, that these two phenomena have led to an overall flat or declining level of innovation productivity. The article then turns to three explanations for the decline – the growing complexity of science, a mismatch of incentives, and a balkanization of knowledge. Finally, the article explores the role that open science partnerships – public-private partnerships based on open access publications, open data and materials, and the avoidance of restrictive forms of intellectual property – can play in increasing the efficiency of the innovation system.

Keywords: Innovation, Research productivity, Open science, Intellectual property, Patents, Research incentives, Public-private partnerships, Networks

Suggested Citation

Gold, E. Richard, The Fall of the Innovation Empire and its Possible Rise Through Open Science (March 17, 2021). Research Policy 50:5 104226 , Available at SSRN:

E. Richard Gold (Contact Author)

McGill University - Faculty of Law ( email )

3644 Peel Street
Montreal H3A 1W9, Quebec

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