by Angelo R. Bouselli, Communications Manager, FasterCures
According to a recent Wall Street Journal, article hard economic times could drive innovation. In the article, Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen discusses how breakthroughs in innovation come when economic resources are limited. Christensen goes on to say, “If you give people a lot of money it gives them the privilege of pursuing the wrong strategy for a really long time.” Christensen discusses how prosperity tends to insulate the market from innovations, and he thinks that by forcing innovators not to waste so much time, the economic downturn will have a positive effect on innovation.
To put innovation and medical research into perspective, the NIH will spend $29.5 billion on basic and applied medical research. Over 80 percent of the money goes to fund 50,000 grants to 325,000 scientists in the U.S. and overseas. The next NIH director faces serious challenges.
A new report, “Rebuilding our Economy: Investing in Research Critical to our Nation’s Health,” released by Research!America, focuses on the issue of investing in medical research to solve some of the underlying problems in our nation’s economy. According to the report, “half of the growth in the U.S. economy is commonly attributed to the knowledge and innovation driven by research. Long recognized as the foundation for innovation, research has been shortchanged.” Research!America estimates that $122 billion was spent in 2007 on research to improve health. That amount might seem like a lot. However, it’s only 5.5 percent of the $2.25 trillion spent on healthcare in the U.S. in 2007.
In order for the U.S. to maintain its position as a global leader in science we will need to re-establish research as a priority. According to Christensen, one of the benefits of the economic crisis is that it increases the pressure to find solutions to healthcare problems. The U.S. has a unique opportunity to completely rethink some of the basic assumptions that have made innovation in healthcare seem impossible. Investing in innovation and research is more critical to our nation’s overall health than ever before.
The economic crisis can force companies to be more innovative and resourceful. At FasterCures, we believe that the federal government needs to spend more on medical research and that it’s good for our economic health to invest in science that will create the jobs of tomorrow. But, we also believe that the economic crisis should cause us to take a careful look at how we are investing the resources we’ve already committed. Are resources being spent in ways that ensure science will lead rapidly to new products that are good for patients and good for the economy?