IRIS receives grant for new project assessing strategic investments for regional jobs

October 26, 2023

Contact: Jon Meerdink ([email protected])

ANN ARBOR — The Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research has received a $4.5 million grant to study how strategic investments have impacted the creation of jobs in key technological areas.

The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) granted the pilot funding via its Technology, Innovations and Partnerships (TIP) directorate. The funds will be used to assess the value of investments the agency made in regional firms and jobs in several important fields, initially focusing on artificial intelligence and electric vehicles in Ohio.

The project, titled Industries of Ideas: A prototype system for measuring the effects of TIP investments on firms and jobs, will be led by researchers at U-M as well as Ohio State University’s Ohio Education Research Center (OERC) and the Social Science Research Council. In practice, the project will employ a “people-centric” approach to studying the impact of investments. Researchers will monitor the flow of ideas from federally funded research to the broader marketplace by identifying and tracking businesses using particularly innovative approaches to key technology.

“This project will demonstrate a new means for NSF, universities, and states to use timely data to understand, explain, and improve the effects research investments in critical technology areas have on people’s lives, the economy, and jobs,” said Jason Owen-Smith, executive director of IRIS and professor of sociology at U-M. “Rather than tracking documents or key words, our project relies on learning about how skilled people with cutting-edge expertise move into innovative areas of the economy as a means to identify these effects.”

“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.” 

The TIP directorate provides opportunities to learn from new approaches with a goal of improving the NSF’s overall approach to funding research. More information on the TIF directorate is available here
IRIS collects record-level administrative data from its member institutions to produce a de-identified dataset for research and reporting. Its mission is to be a trusted resource for high-quality data that supports independent, frontier research on science and innovation in the service of the public interest. More information about IRIS is available here.

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