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asked ago in General Economics Questions by (200 points)
Yesterday Heidi Williams & Paul Niehaus of J-PAL announced a new "Science for Progress Initiative" (SfPI) which gets right to the heart of new interest in public support for translational research in science & technology.  The National Science Foundation has launched a new cross-cutting Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP) directorate that aims to fund research with potential to lead to scientific breakthroughs in areas that could foster large improvements in health, the environment, productivity, infrastructure, etc.  Via support for multidisciplinary Convergence Accelerators and Regional Innovation Engines, the TIP program hopes to: advance critical technologies; address national & societal challenges; foster partnerships across industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society, and communities of practice; and promote and stimulate economic growth and job creation. [Go to https://beta.nsf.gov/tip/latest to read more]. Sounds great, you say -- but where's the evidence that these initiatives could work?  J-PAL's new SfPI aims to help inform and shape this work by building evidence on causal links between research support and science-and-technology outcomes. Important questions in this respect include: What contracts, incentives, and institutions work best when funding scientific research? How should funders decide which projects to support? How to get benefits of expert peer review without throttling new ideas from outside the dominant research paradigm? Bringing the "science of science" into new efforts to catalyze scientific progress via public support seems critical to its odds of success. More information on SfPI's agenda can be found here:  https://www.povertyactionlab.org/updates/release-new-j-pal-initiative-apply-scientific-method-improve-science-funding-and-policy.

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