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Shadow science minister eyes public return on research investment

A future Labour government might enact policies in which the state would look for a fair return on its technology investments, the shadow science and universities minister Shabana Mahmood has said.

The idea was proposed by Mariana Mazzucato, an economist and professor of science and technology at SPRU–Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex. “Economists such as Mazzucato have made a compelling case for the state seeing a greater reward for its funding of risky early-stage research,” Mahmood told Research Fortnight. “This is something I am interested in exploring further.”

Mazzucato’s book The Entrepreneurial State, published in June, argues that successful industrial innovations such as mobile phones wouldn’t have happened without state funding at an early stage, something that companies rarely acknowledge. The business then reaps all the benefits while the government gets little in return. She calls this socialisation of risk and privatisation of reward.

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