Abstract: Money for Nothing: How Firms Financed R&D in Britain and the United States, 1870-1990

Gerben Bakker


This paper investigates how entrepreneurs and firms tried to overcome the financing problems of R&D historically, discussing cases ranging from angel investors and the stock market to venture capital. The paper first defines R&D and then sets out the major challenges that are faced when financing it. It examines the history of several industries in Britain and America and investigates what solutions firms and industries developed to the financing problem, how these differed between the countries, and how they changed over time. The paper starts in 1870, on the eve of the second industrial revolution and ends in 1990, when venture capital financing was firmly established. However, the majority of attention will be given to the period 1870-1940.