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.

Wellcome Trust Blog

MOney originalWhat’s it worth, a report published today, is one of the first ever estimates of the economic gains from investment in publicly funded UK cancer research. The research was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust, Academy of Medical Sciences, Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health. Liz Allen, Head of Evaluation at the Wellcome Trust, argues the case for investing in medical research…

Bill Clinton achieved a lot in the White House. He presided over the longest period of peacetime economic growth in American history, he signed the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he was the first Democrat since FDR to win re-election. Yet when asked last month to recall his greatest accomplishment, he chose none of these things. The best thing he did as President, he told the Inclusive Capital Conference in London this year, was spending $3bn on the Human Genome Project.

The pride of…

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Author: Shane O'Mara


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