Incentivizing Innovation: Adding to the Tool Kit
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Intellectual property rights (IPR) create incentives for research but impose static efficiency losses and other costs. In this essay, we discuss recent proposals of other mechanisms for rewarding innovation and argue that incremental experimentation with mechanisms that supplement rather than replace IPR can help to test and refine these mechanisms without undermining existing institutions. Prizes, such as those recently offered by the X‐Prize Foundation, have been successful in spurring research but have typically targeted demonstration projects rather than innovations capable of being used at scale. To spur the creation of products for widespread use, the design of prizes could be usefully extended by conditioning rewards on a market test, as in the recent $1.5 billion pilot Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for a pneumococcus vaccine.