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Finding the Endless Frontier

Finding the Endless Frontier

Lessons from the Life Sciences Innovation System for Energy R&D

(p.113) 4 Finding the Endless Frontier
Accelerating Energy Innovation
Iain M. CockburnScott SternJack Zausner
University of Chicago Press

This chapter reviews the roots of innovation in life sciences, an industry that has been the second-largest recipient of federal research funding (after defense), and which is justly celebrated for the extraordinary productivity of the “innovation ecosystem” that links its public and private sectors. The nature of energy and climate change innovation is in many respects different in some fundamental ways from life sciences innovation; however, the evolution and structure of the life sciences innovation system offers an instructive comparison. The genesis and evolution of the life sciences innovation system is the consequence of a set of policy choices and a microeconomic environment that has allowed the United States to leverage a set of embryonic scientific discoveries into a platform for sustained innovation, which has had a significant impact on human health and welfare. Some key features of the life sciences innovation system, such as the set of interdependent firms, markets, institutions, and regulatory and legal frameworks responsible for this strong record of innovation, and some lessons from this sector for innovation policy in energy and climate change, are outlined in the chapter.

Keywords:   life sciences, innovation, policy choices, scientific discoveries, climate change

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