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The Federal Government as the Venture Fund for Research in the United States

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This paper deals with the impact of the Federal Government through its support of basic and applied science and technology research. Many of the most important advances of the latter half of the 20th century are directly traceable to the U.S. Government effectively assuming this role. Three examples are used to describe the above assertion: Computational Fluid Dynamics; the Internet and the World Wide Web; and the Human Genome Project. Each of these enhance the performance of individuals or teams in the performance of complex tasks (Computational Fluid Dynamics the ability of aircraft design teams to rapidly consider a range of design alternative, for example.) The economic and societal impacts of these range from new national defense capabilities, to new approaches to commerce and knowledge availability, to new treatments of diseases. These and other areas spawned by federal investments in research resulted in both new company creation, such as those typical of Silicon Valley and the Biotechnology sector, and the continuing global competitiveness of more traditional, existing companies, such as Boeing and its growing dependence on advances in Computational Fluid Dynamics. The continued investment in basic and applied research by the U.S. Government is absolutely critical to the future vitality and global competitive position of the country. Moreover, such activities require the very best leadership practices to realize their full potential. Some of the practices employed by private sector venture funds might be adapted to federal R&D leadership, particularly in such mission agencies as the Department of Defense and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). These include adapting a "fail fast, fail often" perspective and developing exit strategies for a program prior to its initiation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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  • The journal Technology is a forum for presentation of information encompassing essentially the entire field of applied sciences. Owing to the broad nature of applied sciences, authors should be guided by the interest of the readers who are likely to be knowledgeable non-specialists.
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