recent research

Recent Research: Automation not resulting in greater job loss at the country level

Discussions surrounding automation’s power and the effect it could have on jobs have only increased over time. The current pandemic adds to the debate of whether automation and robotics, which are unaffected by viruses and have the potential for cost savings, could offer a safer bet for industries than human labor. Such are the debates the authors of a new working paper considered in their research examining jobs that were identified in the past as being at risk of elimination through automation. While building on previous studies from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of the impact of automation on jobs, OECD authors Alexandre Georgieff and Anna Milanez seek to expand that knowledge to a cross-country context and the paper claims to be the first to evaluate employment outcomes using the task-based measure of automation risk developed by the OECD. The researchers found no support for net job destruction at the broad country level. However, they did find evidence that automation has worsened employment prospects for some workers including skilled agricultural workers, clerical support workers, and metal and machinery workers.      

Recent Research: Innovation vouchers found to increase SME patenting, other positive impacts

A working paper from the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) series featuring researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition provides causal evidence on the effectiveness of innovation vouchers and adds to the argument for implementing small-scale government funding mechanisms like innovation vouchers. Innovation vouchers are designed to link small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with external knowledge resources to promote small-scale innovations.

Recent Research: Balancing the returns from basic research

A recent study exploring the science underlying all 356 pharmaceutical drugs approved by the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research since 2010, found each drug is based on life science investments the public sector has made through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, $230 billion, nearly 40 percent of the $586 billion the federal government has put into NIH over the past decade, can be tied to the development and success of those pharmaceuticals, contend the authors of Government as the First Investor in Biopharmaceutical Innovation: Evidence from New Drug Approvals 2010-2019. Not challenging the tremendously important role the federal government plays in life science R&D, the Bentley University researchers instead wonder if current technology transfer mechanisms enabled by the Bayh-Dole Act allow for an appropriate balance in capturing the financial returns from those investments.

Recent Research: Growing ownership concentration in the pharmaceutical industry

The early days of vaccinating against the coronavirus might not be the most receptive time to raise issues of antitrust in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, but a November 2020 Barcelona GSW Working Paper raises several concerns about the degree and effect of common ownership within big pharma. Does this explain the resistance of drug prices to fall? Should Congress take on the likes of brand firms Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Pfizer, in addition to already challenging the tech giants, in 2021?

Recent Research: The end of industry disruption?

Disruptive technology, or innovations that radically alter the way consumers, industry, or businesses operate, have long been thought to be the primary way emerging small firms can leapfrog competition and compete against large industry titans. Through innovations such as internal IT systems or logistical improvements, small firms can acquire a decisive competitive advantage over their rivals. Or so the traditional theory holds. In a new paper out of Boston University School of Law, Bessen et al. argue that the way we think about industry disruption and displacement may no longer be an accurate assessment of what is truly going on with significant changes since 2000. Unknown policy implications from their findings relate to possible long-term impacts on regional innovation strategies and American competitiveness.

Recent Research: Exploring the role of social mobility in the rise of populism

In a recently revised working paper from the Center for International Development at Harvard University, the contemporary rise of populism is explained in a new light, that of unfair economic outcomes, often in the form of low social mobility. In his paper Social Mobility Explains Populism, Not Inequality or Culture, Harvard Growth Lab’s Eric S. M. Protzer explores the close correlation between areas of low social mobility and those that have experienced a rise in populist thinking.

Recent Research: Social connections more important than geography in accessing investment capital

The strength of personal relationships and social connections are the most important factors for accessing capital markets according to a recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Theresa Kuchler, Yan Li, Lin Peng, Johannes Stroebel, and Dexin Zhou — using a novel modeling system and index of “social connectedness” — conclude that physical, geographical proximity has long served as the primary proxy for measuring how the social connections among firms and investors across geographies affect access to capital markets and investment decisions. These findings may have far reaching impacts for businesses from any region—not just those closer to investment hubs—as well as for entrepreneurial support organizations and other stakeholders seeking to strengthen their local innovation communities.

$8.1 billion in state angel tax credits: Creating investors or more successful entrepreneurs?

Many of the most successful technology, life science and advanced companies in the country received financing in the form of an equity investment during their rapid growth and scaling stages of development.  Whether viewed as valiant, villains or vultures, the presence of individuals and firms willing to provide capital to companies when they have few physical assets or revenues is strongly associated with healthy regional innovation economies. As a result, considerable policy attention has been focused by states on increasing the amount of risk capital flowing to local startups.

Cities failing non-college workers

Non-college workers who long found refuge and economic mobility in thriving cities have seen those opportunities diminish and in turn have moved out of the areas. Although cities remain vibrant for workers with advanced degrees, “the urban skills and earnings escalator for non-college workers has lost its ability to lift workers up the income ladder,” finds David Autor in his recent research brief. The Faltering Escalator of Urban Opportunity highlights this troubling trend plaguing cities since 1980 and posits some policy prescriptions to try to combat the negative trends. Additionally, Autor cautions that the present COVID-19 crisis could exacerbate the challenges afflicting non-college workers in U.S. cities.

Recent Research: North Carolina’s SBIR/STTR matching program yields results

Since 2005, the One North Carolina Small Business Program has made 423 SBIR/STTR matching awards worth nearly $26 million to more than 250 businesses throughout the state. A new assessment, which updates an earlier report, provides academic rigor to a standard program review. The results indicate that even beyond survey-based attestations to the program’s value, there is a statistically-significant impact of North Carolina’s funding for the competitiveness of recipients.


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