Serving Society

Spurring Economic Growth

NIH investment drives growth of the whole biomedical research enterprise, such as the growth of biotech from the foundation of NIH-supported discoveries.

NIH Spurs the Economy

Discoveries arising from NIH-funded research provide a foundation for the U.S. biomedical industry, which contributes over $69 billion to the U.S. GDP each year and supports over 7 million jobs.

Image credit: Darryl Leja, NHGRI

  • A $1.00 increase in publicly funded basic research stimulates an additional $8.38 of industry research and development investment after 8 years. 
  • A $1.00 increase in publicly funded clinical research stimulates an additional $2.35 of industry research and development investment after 3 years. 
  • NIH-funded basic research fuels the entry of new drugs into the market and provides a positive return of public investment of 43%, by some estimates.

DNA Sequencing

Thanks to the Human Genome Project and subsequent molecular technologies—which received significant NIH support—the field of human genomics now supports over 850,000 jobs, has over $265 billion in total economic impact per year, and yields a return of investment of $4.75 for every $1 spent.

Image credit: Daniel Soñé, NCI

  • The Human Genome Project generated the first human genome sequence. The estimated cost for generating the initial human genome sequence was $300 million. Today, the cost to sequence a human genome is less than $1,000. 
  • These advances in molecular technologies led to integration of genomics into the fabric of biomedical research, medical practice, and society—moving beyond the research lab to both commercial and clinical sectors.
  • The field of human genomics supports more than 166,000 direct U.S. jobs and 850,000 indirect jobs. 


The NIH Proof of Concept Network supported more than 3,000 academic innovators and entrepreneurs to convert promising scientific discoveries into medical products. This led to the creation of over 100 startup companies and more than $1.58 billion in additional funding.

Image credit: National Cancer Institute, NIH

  • By combining entrepreneurial training, product development expertise from the local biomedical ecosystem, and funding and project management for proof of concept studies, NIH has contributed to training a biomedical workforce that is globally competitive in technology development and entrepreneurship.

Small Businesses

Small businesses are a national resource for technological innovation. One NIH institute estimates that their small-business investment has added more than $13 billion to the U.S. economy.

Image credit: Daniel Soñé Photography, LLC

  • A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine consensus study reported that the NIH small business investment programs fulfill their broad missions by funding U.S. small businesses to conduct high-quality and commercially relevant research, and this research contributes to U.S. leadership within the biomedical research enterprise.
  • An economic impact study on the National Cancer Institute’s small-business program found that its efforts have resulted in $26.1 billion in economic output nationwide and a $13.4 billion in value-added to the U.S. economy.


Spurring Economic Growth

  1. United for Medical Research. Profiles of Prosperity: How NIH-Supported Research Is Fueling Private Sector Growth and Innovation. 2013.
  2. Biotechnology Industry Association. State Legislative Best Practices in Support of Bioscience Industry Development. 2010.
  3. Azoulay P, et al. Rev Econ Stud. 2019;86(1):117-152. PMID: 31662587.
  4. Toole, AA. J. of Law and Econ 2007. vol. 50.
  5. Toole, AA. Research Policy, 2012;41, pp. 1-12.

DNA Sequencing

  1. Green ED, et al. Nature. 2020;586(7831):683-692. PMID: 33116284
  2. The Cost of Sequencing a Human Genome:
  3. American Society of Human Genetics. The Economic Impact and Functional Applications of Human Genetics and Genomics. 2021.


  1. Small business Education and Entrepreneurial Development Success Stories:
  2. Proof of Concept Network:

Small Businesses

  1. National Cancer Institute. Economic Impact Analysis of the NCI SBIR Program. 2018.
  2. Assessment of the SBIR and STTR Programs at NIH:

This page last reviewed on March 1, 2023