Public-private partnership to develop technology infrastructure: A case study of the economic returns of DNA diagnostics
This paper presents a quantitative case analysis of one US Advanced Technology Program (ATP) public-private partnership that advanced the technology infrastructure of molecular diagnostics, resulting in substantial downstream economic and public health benefits. Biotechnology R&D is generally characterized by technologies requiring substantial investments in time, money, and effort to develop and sustain concepts through long incubation times. Public sponsorship of a partnership between two companies who would have not otherwise collaborated, Affymetrix and Molecular Dynamics, accelerated the development of DNA microarrays and DNA sequencing technologies and induced innovation at competitor firms. Public sponsorship of private-company research accelerated the completion of the Human Genome Project and improved both the quality and rapidity with which the biotechnology industry and medical science acquire genetic information. Counterfactual scenarios were used to quantify net public benefits by estimating the hypothetical costs of achieving the same outcomes as using the processes and technologies the ATP-cofunded innovations superseded.