Spin-Offs: A Business Pay-Off

by Hyman Olken



The United States government's vast expenditures for research and development (R&D) in space, in defense and in atomic energy have profoundly altered the basic industrial structure of the U.S. When the federal government's R&D expenditures rose to over ten billion dollars a year, government agencies began to stress the valuable by-products or spin-offs that fall out to civilian and commercial industry, in part to justify their enormous expenditures. Hence, in recent years, those agencies which generate a great deal of R&D technical information have undertaken extensive "technology utilization" programs which pick out the commercially applicable technical advances and serve them up with the invitation to industry to help itself. Extent of industry involvement in spin-offs. Comments from private industry that the stockpile of government research reports offers little that an industrial firm can use to create new products are still common, though less frequent than in years past. However, the truth is that private industry already does exploit this new technology on a huge scale.

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