Impetus Institute


Federal funding for research and development (R&D) has long formed the bedrock of the U.S. scientific enterprise. But in a world where new models of knowledge discovery are emerging, priority areas for exploration and innovation are shifting, and global competition is escalating at breakneck speed, it is critical to ensure that we as a nation are using federal scientific funding as productively as possible to maximize its societal impact.

Drawing its name from the idea that support for science, technology, and innovation can be “a driving force” for positive societal change, the FAS Impetus Institute was founded to support the federal government in making R&D investments that are as strategic and effective as possible.

Press Release: FAS Welcomes Matt Hourihan and Launches New Impetus Institute


Matt Hourihan

Associate Director of Research & Development and Advanced Industry

What We're Building

Insightful analysis. The Impetus Institute conducts original analysis to comprehensively examine federal funding for priority science topics, track funding across different agencies and programs, compare current and allocated funding to past and requested funding, and consider how scientific funding in the United States stacks up against international counterparts.

Rigorous evaluation. The federal government invests well over $150 billion annually into R&D. Yet shockingly few mechanisms are in place to routinely optimize how those dollars are spent. Just as the growing “science of science” community applies the tools of scientific inquiry to identify best practices for doing science, the Impetus Institute consults with evaluation experts to determine best practices for funding science—and then engages with policymakers to incorporate those practices into federal operations at scale.

Creative partnerships. If federal scientific funding is a driving force for societal change, then partnerships are force multipliers. The federal government can and does externally leverage its investments in R&D through cost-sharing, jointly managed facilities, and similar arrangements. But partnership impact is constrained by limited federal capacity and vision. The Impetus Institute identifies and pursues opportunities to expand federal partnerships, as well as to complement traditional partnership mechanisms with more creative approaches.