Scott Stern, Director
In the past few years there has been an increasing appreciation of how important innovation is to the economy, for instance as we saw the technology sector lead the economy into boom and then bust, witnessed the number of patent filings by U.S. corporations, or read the business press coverage of innovations . At the same time, there is active debate regarding the implications of rapid technological change for economic policy, and the appropriate policies and programs regarding research, innovation, and the commercialization of new technology. These debates encompass long-standing issues, such as the appropriate level and form of public support of research, the gap between publicly-funded research and technology commercialization, and the effect of health and safety regulation on innovation. There are also newer issues, such as the evolving role of intellectual property and the appropriate antitrust treatment of software and other industries in which technology standards play a key role, as well as the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship.
The NBER's Innovation Policy (IPE) Working Group seeks to foster research by economists and other social scientists on the interactions between public policy and the innovation process, and to provide communication mechanisms between researchers and the policy community. Interactions between and among researchers and others working in government, business, and non-profit organizations can improve the timeliness, policy-relevance, and focus of academic research. At the same time, easier access to the findings of policy-oriented research can improve public policy decision-making. In keeping with general NBER traditions, the Group's activities involve many policy issues and provide useful information without making policy recommendations.