Measuring the Economic and Academic Impact of Philanthropic Funding: The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Vol. 20, No. 1, 2022
by Detelina Vasileva, Larry Norton, Marc Hurlbert and Andrew W. Lo
Using survey data gathered from grantees of the nonprofit Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), we investigated the commercial and non-commercial impacts of their research funding. We found significant impact in both domains. Commercially, 19.5% of BCRF grantees filed patents, 35.9% had a project that has reached clinical development, and 12 companies have or will be spun off from existing projects, thus creating 127 new jobs. Non-commercially, 441 graduate students have been trained by 116 grantees, 767 postdoctoral fellows have been trained by 137 grantees, 66% of grantees have used funding for faculty salaries, 93% have achieved collaboration with other researchers, and 42.7% have enacted process improvements in research methodology. Econometric analysis identifies BCRF funding and associated process improvements as key factors associated with the likelihood to file patents. However, we also found that the involvement of more than one institution in a collaborative project had a negative impact on subsequent development. This may point to frictions introduced by multi-university interactions.