NSF launches pilot to assess the impact of strategic investments on regional jobs

Industries of Ideas 2023

The U.S. National Science Foundation announced a new three-year, $4.5 million pilot designed to develop novel approaches to assess the impact of investments made by the agency's Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) on regional firms and jobs in key technology areas. The pilot will initially focus on artificial intelligence and electric vehicles in Ohio to demonstrate the feasibility and value of the approach.

The project, Industries of Ideas: A prototype system for measuring the effects of TIP investments on firms and jobs, led by research teams at the University of Michigan, The Ohio State University and the Social Science Research Council, will develop people-centric methods for following the movement of ideas from federally funded research to the marketplace by identifying businesses that employ people trained in deep technology skills through these investments along with early workforce indicators. The team will engage with regional innovation ecosystems spanning universities; businesses; state, local and tribal governmental agencies and organizations; and civil society to help inform the design of the evaluation capability, develop metrics for success and continuously improve the approach.

"NSF's strategic investments in key technologies warrant innovative tools to accurately assess the impact of these investments across the U.S.," said TIP Assistant Director Erwin Gianchandani. "The Industries of Ideas project will develop a prototype to better understand the impact of NSF's efforts through the new TIP directorate, providing rich, descriptive analyses of the interplay between our investments and people, jobs and regional economies."

Investments in science and technology research and development are generating new "idea industries" that do not align neatly with traditional measures of scientific fields and industries. This project seeks to establish the foundation for a new, rapidly implementable conceptual and empirical approach to tracing how idea industries are formed by detecting flows of people moving into jobs and firms from federally funded research projects and the effects of those flows on the entire workforce. The initial focus will be on investments in AI and electric vehicles.

The Industries of Ideas project is an example of a TIP pilot. TIP pilots provide an opportunity to learn from new approaches to help improve the agency's overall approach to funding research and innovation. A pilot involves defining and testing hypotheses and assessing the outcomes to determine whether the approach is worthy of further investment and scaling. For more information about TIP, visit https://new.nsf.gov/tip/latestFor more information about the research teams leading this pilot project, visit iris.isr.umich.edu, oerc.osu.edu, and ssrc.org.