Technology & Policy Research Initiative

Examining the societal impact of tech innovation.

New technologies are being created and introduced into the marketplace so rapidly that their pervasive influence on society occurs long before policymakers can adapt laws and regulations.

The Technology & Policy Research Initiative (TPRI) is a joint initiative between Boston University School of Law and Boston University Questrom School of Business, which engages faculty, students, and policy stakeholders; conducts multidisciplinary research; and trains future leaders in this field.

TPRI conducts research on how technology affects the well-being of society as a whole: how technology affects incomes, why it sometimes creates greater inequality, what policies encourage both innovation and the skills and jobs that allow ordinary people to benefit from innovation, and how political economy shapes actual policy. TPRI conducts research on the effects of new technology on the workforce, intellectual property policies that can encourage innovation, how political economy shapes policy, and how government policies affect employee incentives, startup creation, market competition, and economic dynamism generally.

The initiative is headed by Executive Director James Bessen, an economist who studies technology and innovation policy, with Faculty Directors Rena Conti, a BU Questrom associate professor; Michael Meurer, a BU Law professor; and Timothy Simcoe, a BU Questrom professor. Bessen and Meurer wrote the 2008 book, Patent Failure: How Judges, Bureaucrats, and Lawyers Put Innovators at Risk, in which they argue that patents can provide incentives to invest in research, development, and commercialization, but when property rights are not clearly defined, patents can, instead, lead to costly disputes and excessive litigation that undermine innovation. Meurer teaches and does research on intellectual property law, economic analysis of the law, and competition policy. Conti teaches strategy in the biopharmaceutical industry and her research is on the financing, organization, and regulation of the biopharmaceutical industry. Simcoe teaches Technology Strategy, and his research covers topics in industrial organization, particularly in the areas of industry standards, innovation, intellectual property, technology and corporate strategy. He previously served as a senior economist on the Council of Economic Advisers. The initiative is joined by a diverse group of scholars with deep expertise in a range of critical areas including data privacy, supply chain management, entrepreneurship, and patent standards. TPRI also supports the research of law students, graduate students, and post-docs.