The federal government spends tens of billions of dollars every year to support fundamental scientific research that is mostly conducted at universities.
- The federal government spends tens of billions of dollars every year to support fundamental scientific research that is mostly conducted at universities.
- For instance, the basic discoveries that made the COVID-19 vaccine possible stretch back to the early 1960s.
- If lawmakers miss a second Feb. 2 deadline, then automatic budget cuts will hit future research hard.
- Our data shows how endangering basic research harms communities across the U.S. and can limit innovative companies’ access to the skilled employees they need to succeed.
A promised investment
- Congress had just passed the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act.
- The “science” part of the law promised one of the biggest federal investments in the National Science Foundation – America’s premier basic science research agency – in its 74-year history.
- The CHIPS act authorized US$81 billion for the agency, promised to double its budget by 2027 and directed it to “address societal, national, and geostrategic challenges for the benefit of all Americans” by investing in research.
Research’s critical impact
- Lagging research investment will hurt U.S. leadership in critical technologies like artificial intelligence, advanced communications, clean energy and biotechnology.
- Less support means less new research work gets done, fewer new researchers are trained and important new discoveries are made elsewhere.
- They employ your neighbors and friends and contribute to the economic health of your hometown and the nation.
When Congress’ problems endanger basic research, they also damage businesses like these and people you might not usually associate with academic science and engineering. Construction and manufacturing companies earn more than $2 billion each year from federally funded research done by our consortium’s members.
Jobs and innovation
- Highly trained people are essential to corporate innovation and to U.S. leadership in key fields, like AI, where companies depend on hiring to secure research expertise.
- Our data shows that they go on to many types of jobs, but are particularly important for leading tech companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Intel.
- They also hurt private-sector innovation because even the most successful companies need to hire people with expert research skills.
- Temporary cuts to research funding hurt too because they reduce high-tech entrepreneurship and decrease publication of new findings.
- This would make one of the fears that led lawmakers to pass the CHIPS and Science Act into a reality.
- Whether the current budget deal succeeds or fails, basic research is on the table and the stakes are high.
Jason Owen-Smith's research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Wellcome Leap. He is executive director of the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS).