The Seeds that Federal Money Can Plant
Duolingo, an online translation search engine that will soon be a tool for anyone learning a new language, recently received over $15 million in venture capital. Duolingo began as a university research project funded primarily by the National Science Foundation. The story of Duolingo and its creator Luis Von Ahn one of many that demonstrate the how federal research dollars and innovation turn into private sector jobs and companies. Those who champion the private sector may not recognize the role government has played in major tech companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft, whose core ideas were originally funded by federally funded universities and research grants. Von Ahn, however, knows his story to be a great example of how federal dollars in research and development spur growth, and he urges Members of Congress to spare the long-term investments of R&D in coming decisions about the federal budget: “Don’t eat your seed corn.”
The story by Steve Lohr of the New York Times on October 6 can be read here.