What’s it worth? The economic case for medical research

Need to argue that investment in research is economically worthwhile*? This blog provides the (latest) case.

Money quote: “The authors estimate that for every pound invested in cancer-related medical research there is a direct economic return of 10 pence year on year, far in excess of the UK Government’s stated minimum threshold of 3.5 pence per pound for investments. On top of that, there is an estimated additional 30 pence of yearly return per pound in ‘spillover’ benefits, the indirect positive financial impact of public and charitable research investment – including increasing employment and leveraging private sector R&D activity. All in all, the study claims a weighty 40 pence return for every pound spent on medical research.”

*There are lots of other reasons too, obviously (scholarship, knowledge as a public good, pushing back the frontiers of ignorance, distilling wonder at the world into understanding how that world came to be as it is, etc, etc). But the economic case can be measured – and it’s overwhelmingly positive – just not always necessarily in the obvious ways (spinouts! spinouts! spinouts!). Oblique and indirect effects (‘spillovers’) are hugely consequential too.

Author: Shane O'Mara

Neuroscientist

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