Making America More Innovative through, wait for it…

There are lots and lots of Lawrence folks out there interested in how to improve US innovation. How, indeed? One answer comes from a recent article at, where Economist Ray Fisman discusses how, surprise!, giving scientists greater incentives can foment higher levels and more novel types of medical innovation.

His source is a new paper from Azouly, Zivan, and Manzo that looks at the relative successes of different groups of medical researchers with similar academic pedigrees: Here’s a key excerpt from the abstract:

[W]e study the careers of investigators of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), which tolerates early failure, rewards long-term success, and gives its appointees great freedom to experiment; and grantees from the National Institute of Health, which are subject to short review cycles, pre-dened deliverables, and renewal policies unforgiving of failure… We find that HHMI investigators produce high-impact papers at a much higher rate than two control groups of similarly-accomplished NIH-funded scientists. Moreover, the direction of their research changes in ways that suggest the program induces them to explore novel lines of inquiry.

You can find the research paper here.

Much more on the topic of innovation and entrepreneurship as the term progresses.