Building on the work of economists Tyler Cowen and Robert Gordon, Stripe's billionaire co-founder Patrick Collison and Y-Combinator’s Michael Nielsen add more meat to the hypothesis that we’re getting less scientific bang for a buck than we used to. They survey scientists, comparing Nobel Prize–winning discoveries in their fields and conclude that scientific breakthroughs look to be getting less significant.
This matters for entrepreneurs and policymakers around the world. In the UK, the Government has committed to a target of 2.4% of GDP invested in UK R&D by 2027, with a longer-term goal of 3%. If science really has significantly slowed per pound or hour spent – and I'm broadly convinced it has – this should make us question whether the funding processes and institutions are the very best that they can be. After all, a lot of this money is funded by governments with the aim of ultimately stimulating entrepreneurial activity.
As Collison and Nielsen conclude, the "evidence demands a large-scale institutional response. It should be a major subject in public policy, and at grant agencies and universities. Better understanding the cause of this phenomenon is important, and identifying ways to reverse it is one of the greatest opportunities to improve our future."
Easy as APPG
Following last week's publication and launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Entrepreneurship's Enterprise Education report, as the Secretariat we're busy scoping out potential research areas for the next 12 to 18 months ahead of our AGM in December. Now is the time to get in touch if you have any areas of policy that you think we should raise with the MPs and Peers across the House of Commons and Lords who make up the APPG's Officers.
In last week's political turmoil, we didn't have space to mention the ScaleUp Institute's formidable 2018 ScaleUp Review. The report is packed with useful information on the state of scale-up activity in the UK, but for entrepreneurs looking for a practical angle, Annex 1 provides pithy Local Area Summaries on the top programmes in the area to help them scale their business.
Fintech's 4 Fingleton
Calling all fintech entrepreneurs! Next month we will host a roundtable with John Fingleton, founder and CEO of Fingleton Associates and the former CEO of the Office of Fair Trading from 2005 to 2012. This event will be a chance to hear from one of the UK's leading experts on regulation. In government, he oversaw merger regulation, enforcement of competition rules, consumer protection, and credit regulation. Get in touch if you're a fintech founder who wants to get involved.