NIH Funding Strengthens the Economy

A new United for Medical Research (UMR) report has found that funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) helps fuel private sector growth and innovation and strengthens the economy.

The study titled, “Profiles of Prosperity: How NIH-Supported Research is Fueling Private Sector Growth and Innovation” features 10 companies that evolved from NIH-funded research and explains the beneficial ways NIH continues to partner with university research scientists and private sector companies to create jobs and improve the economy.

In one example, research supported by NIH in the field of genomics and developed at the University of California, San Francisco created a technology later licensed by a private company, Signature Genomics. This company, founded by Washington State University-Spokane researchers, later made two major innovations to the technology that revolutionized the way people with similar genetic code disorders could connect with one another. Since this technology was developed, Signature Genomics grew rapidly, and by 2010 it employed 120 highly skilled jobs. That technology was then purchased by PerkinElmer for $90 million.

Other companies profiled in the report, who all trace key advances to NIH funding, have made advancements in nerve repair, better ways to treat cancer, lowering costs for the research process, among others.

Key facts and statistics from the UMR report:

  • NIH is a wise investment for health and the economy. 
  • NIH is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world, supporting the work of 135 Nobel Prize laureates.
  • The NIH community consists of more than 330,000 scientists and research personnel at over 2,500 research institutions across all 50 states.
  • While NIH received $30.9 billion in federal funding in 2011, NIH-supported research added $69 billion to our GDP and supported 7 million jobs that same year.
  • In 2012 alone, NIH funding supported more than 402,000 jobs and $57.8 billion in economic output nationwide. Yet since 2003, NIH funding has been falling as a share of GDP and in inflation-adjusted dollars. Sequestration exacerbated that decline, lopping off $1.1 billion or 5.1 percent, from NIH awards budget. The net result will ultimately be the loss of 22,500 jobs and $3 billion in economic activity.
  • Federal investment is amplified and enhanced by the private sector, which provides additional capital, performs further research, creates new research technologies and enables new methods of discovery, develops manufacturing capacity and expertise, assumes regulatory and reimbursement risks, and in many other ways shepherds NIH discoveries from the bench to the bedside.
  • The vast majority of NIH budget – nearly 90 percent – is granted to scientists, universities, and private companies through a competitive, merit-based process.
  • NIH directly supports small businesses, particularly start-ups and spin-offs resulting from federally funded research discoveries, through programs such as the Small Business Innovation Research grants.
  • Without significant research and development spending by the private sector, the research investments made by NIH would not come to fruition.
  • In the pharmaceutical industry, a $1 public investment in basic research is estimated to lead to an additional $8.38 of private research and development after eight years.

Read the full report.


Date originally posted: August 9, 2013.