Science and the economy

03 July 2024

How does science benefit the economy?

Scientific research, and the innovations that build on it, have transformed the world. Some of the outcomes are highly visible – for example new treatments for disease or new consumer electronic devices. Others are less visible but provide the infrastructure for the modern economy, such as the network of fibre optic cables and associated optoelectronics on which the entire internet runs.

Science underpins the modern economy, boosting wages by increasing productivity and benefiting the economy by contributing to national security, environmental protection, and public health.

The Royal Society’s Science and the economy report (PDF) explores these paths to economic impact. It assesses explains how current quantitative methods capture only a small slice of the value generated by the science system, and uses a set of three in-depth case studies to illustrate the paths through which science can impact the economy. The report includes a proposed taxonomy for how this economic impact that better encapsulates the ways that science and innovation lead to economic impact.

Find out more

Professor Richard Jones FRS, the chair of this report, has written a blog post on the economic value of research to accompany its launch.

This report was produced as part of the Royal Society’s Science 2040 programme which seeks to articulate the value of science to society, and the value of implementing a long-term vision for UK science.